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N. Korea begins regular wintertime drills, no unusual signs detected yet: JCS

Defense 11:14 December 15, 2020

SEOUL, Dec. 15 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has begun regular wintertime military drills, and no unusual movements have been detected so far, the South Korean military said Tuesday.

"We believe that North Korea began their regular wintertime drills," Col. Kim Jun-rak, spokesperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), told a regular briefing. "South Korea and the U.S. intelligence authorities are closely monitoring related movements in close coordination."

The drills have yet to be in full swing, and there are no signs indicating any imminent provocative acts, according to a JCS officer.

The communist country usually kicks off their exercise for winter in December to continue through early spring, and the program has often involved artillery firing drills.

Early this month, the U.S. had flown several types of surveillance aircraft over South Korea in an apparent move to monitor the North.

Pyongyang has not made major military moves in recent months, though it unveiled a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), along with diverse military assets, during a military parade on Oct. 10, to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party.

In the face of difficulties caused by the new coronavirus and prolonged international sanctions, North Korea launched the "80-day campaign" in October to achieve the country's national and economic goals by the end of the year.

Some speculate that it could make provocations, such as missile launches, around the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden in January.

This image captured from a documentary film aired by North Korea's official Korean Central TV on Jan. 10, 2020, shows test-firings of multiple rocket launchers by an all-female military unit on the western border island of Changrin in November 2019. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the firing drills. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

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