SEOUL, Feb. 7 (UPI) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un led a meeting that called on the country’s military to expand its combat drills and move toward “perfecting the preparedness for war,” state media reported on Tuesday.
The meeting of the military commission of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea “discussed in depth the major military and political tasks for 2023,” according to state-run Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea’s top military brass called for “constantly expanding and intensifying the operation and combat drills of the [Korean People’s Army] to cope with the prevailing situation and more strictly perfecting the preparedness for war,” KCNA said.
Kim said he expected the North’s armed forces to “perform ever-victorious feats” and demonstrate “matchless military strength,” according to the report. The meeting, which was held on Monday, marked the North Korean leader’s first public appearance in roughly 40 days.
Pyongyang has shown no signs of toning down its bellicose rhetoric or easing up on military provocations after launching missiles at an unprecedented rate last year.
Last week, a foreign ministry spokesperson warned that North Korea would respond to any U.S. military moves with “the most overwhelming nuclear force.”
In a year-end address, Kim called for “an exponential increase” of the country’s nuclear arsenal and ordered the mass production of lower-yield tactical nuclear weapons, which are designed to be used on the battlefield.
Officials in Seoul and Washington have determined that the North has completed preparations for a nuclear test, which would be its seventh overall and first since 2017.
North Korea will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of its army on Wednesday, and observers are looking out for a military parade that may show off new missiles and other hardware.
The continuing military buildup comes as the country is facing a food shortage that some experts believe is the worst since the devastating famine of the 1990s.
On Monday, KCNA reported that the Workers’ Party politburo would hold a meeting later in the month to discuss reforming the country’s food production system.
“It is a very important and urgent task to establish the correct strategy for the development of agriculture,” the report said.
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