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Kim Jong-un drives tank in mock battle – state media

North Korea was hosting a ‘training match’ with a new tank to coincide with South Korea-US military drills, KCNA said

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un joined his troops in a training exercise involving a newly developed battle tank on Wednesday, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has reported.

The military showcase described as a “training match” was designed to test the combat capabilities of tank crews and make them familiar with combat action on different tactical missions. The exercises involved a new type of main battle tank that Kim called “the world’s most powerful,” KCNA said.

The North Korean leader, along with Defense Minister Kang Sun Nam and other senior officials, observed as tank units maneuvered through simulated combat conditions. During the training exercise, the tanks demonstrated precision and fired rounds at targets.

“Swiftly weaving their way through [the] worst combat circumstances, heavy tanks hit targets at once with powerful strikes and broke through strong defense lines with high maneuverability,” the report claimed.

Kim expressed “great satisfaction” that the battle tank had successfully demonstrated its striking power in its first performance and called for bigger efforts to prepare for war, according to KCNA.

During the drills, Kim mounted one of the tanks and was reported to have driven it himself, “adding to the high militant spirit of the tankmen of our army,” KCNA said. In a photograph published by KCNA, the North Korean leader could be seen with his head peeking out of a tank.

READ MORE: North Korea condemns latest US-South Korea drills

The exercise included units stationed close to the border, within striking distance of “the enemy’s capital,” KCNA said, referring to Seoul.

The training drills coincided with annual military drills involving the US and South Korea off the Korean Peninsula, which are due to end on Thursday. Kim has called these joint exercises a “rehearsal” for an invasion of North Korea and a provocation of war.

The 11-day exercises, which this year involve twice the number of troops compared to last year, are reportedly focused on deterring North Korea’s nuclear threats. The drills involve live-firing,  bombing, air assault, and missile interception, according to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesperson Lee Sung-jun.

Last week, North Korea’s Defense Ministry strongly condemned the joint US-South Korea wargames, describing them as “reckless.”  

In a statement released last week by ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, Pyongyang described the drills as a “further escalation of military threats” and as “an invasion attempt” against a sovereign nation. Meanwhile, Seoul has portrayed the exercises as purely defensive.


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