North Korean leader Kim Jong-un observed a major live-fire drill targeting enemy warships on its military anniversary, state media reported Wednesday, as a U.S. aircraft carrier heads toward the Korean Peninsula amid tensions over its signs of provocation.
The North's leader watched the largest-ever combined firing "demonstration" of the Korean People's Army (KPA)'s servicemen to mark the 85th founding anniversary of the armed forces on Tuesday near an airfield in the eastern front, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
"Submarines rapidly submerged to make torpedo-attacks at the 'enemy' warships while fighters and bombers made zero feet flight above the sea to drop bombs on the targets," the report said.
"More than 300 large-caliber self-propelled guns lined up along the coast opened fire all at once," it added.
North Korea carried out the large-scale conventional military exercise instead of staging another nuclear test or missile provocation. North Korea has detonated five nuclear devices since 2006 and test-fired several missiles this year.
The drill is widely seen as aiming at the U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinson which is heading toward the Korean Peninsula.
The U.S. navy strike group is expected to arrive near the peninsula this weekend for a joint training exercise with South Korean naval ships. The USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered submarine, also made a port call in South Korea on Tuesday.
The U.S. has called on China to use its leverage against North Korea to rein in the repressive regime. U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday called North Korea a "real threat to the world," asking for tougher U.N. sanctions.
North Korea's media warned that its military is ready to "sink" the carrier "with a single strike" if needed.
Pyongyang held a massive military parade on April 15 to mark the 105th birthday of late state founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of the current leader. It displayed prototypes of three intercontinental ballistic missiles in a show of force.
"The latest fire drill is seen as part of North Korea's wrap-up of a monthslong winter training program," said Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies in Kyungnam University.
"I don't think the artillery drill was hastily arranged just to counter Washington's latest move. I think North Korea would fire a missile (to flex its military muscle)."
Meanwhile, among key officials in attendance was Kim Won-hong, a spy chief who was reportedly sacked in mid-January due to abuse of power, the country's TV broadcaster said.
Since the dismissal, Kim made his first public appearance at the recent military parade with the badge of a general on his suit in a possible sign that he may have been reinstated. Kim was demoted to major general concurrent with the dismissal. (Yonhap)