Earlier this week, Kim reopened suspended communication channels with rival South Korea, raising hopes of reduced animosities on the Korean Peninsula, AP reported.
The official Korean Central News Agency said Kim held the workshop of military commanders and political officers from July 24-27 to discuss ways to enhance the North’s military strength. It said it was the first such meeting since North Korea's military was founded.
During the meeting, Kim “stressed that commanders and political officers should focus all efforts on completing preparations for actively and offensively coping with any military provocation of enemies,” KCNA said.
Kim accused “the hostile forces,” an apparent reference to the U.S. and South Korea, of bolstering their capabilities for making a preemptive attack and intensifying “all sorts of frantic and persistent war drills for aggression.” Kim ordered the workshop attendees to put greater efforts to boost their units’ combat efficiency, KCNA said.
In the past few years, South Korean and U.S. militaries have canceled or scaled back some of their regular military exercises to support the now-stalled diplomacy on North Korea’s nuclear program or due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asked over a possibility for next month’s drills being canceled or downsized, Boo Seung-Chan, a spokesman at South Korea’s Defense Ministry, told a briefing Thursday that Seoul and Washington were reviewing factors like the pandemic’s current status, efforts to achieve denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and their combined military readiness.
Some experts say North Korea could test-fire powerful missiles if the United States and South Korea conduct the drills in a full-fledged manner.
Diplomatic efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula remain stalled for about 2 ½ years due to disputes over international sanctions on the North. During the diplomatic impasse, North Korea threatened to build up its nuclear arsenal if Washington doesn’t withdraw policies it considers hostile to Pyongyang.