(LEAD) N. Korea calls for 'perfecting' war readiness posture in meeting chaired by leader Kim
(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with more details, background; ADDS photo)
By Kim Soo-yeon
SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has convened a meeting of the ruling party's central military commission to discuss ways to expand operational combat drills and "more strictly perfect" its readiness posture for war, according to its state media Tuesday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presided over an enlarged meeting of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) on Monday, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Participants "discussed in depth the major military and political tasks for 2023 and the long-term issues concerning the orientation for army building," the KCNA said in an English-language statement.
Major agenda items discussed included "the issue of constantly expanding and intensifying the operation and combat drills of the Korean People's Army (KPA) to cope with the prevailing situation and more strictly perfecting the preparedness for war," it added.
The meeting came amid reports that the North is preparing for a military parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the KPA's founding Wednesday, an event likely to be an occasion to flex its military muscle.
With his latest attendance at the meeting, the North's leader has resumed his public activities after a hiatus of about 40 days.
The wayward regime is widely expected to resume provocative acts this year, as it has vowed to "take the toughest reaction" to the U.S. move to expand military drills with South Korea involving more strategic assets. Washington has pledged to provide credible "extended deterrence" against North Korea's military threats.
The North launched around 70 ballistic missiles last year alone, the most in a single year, amid persistent speculation it may conduct a nuclear test in the near future.
Kim Jong-un called for an "exponential" increase in its nuclear arsenal and the need to mass-produce tactical nuclear weapons at a key party meeting held late last year.
North Korea, meanwhile, said Monday it will hold a party plenary meeting late this month to discuss agricultural development. Observers said the North's plan to hold such a meeting in just two months points to its urgent need to cope with chronic food shortages.
"The North appears to take a two-track approach in implementing this year's policy goals -- strengthening defense capabilities and enhancing people's livelihoods," Yang Moo-Jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies, said.
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