North Korea has apparently re-deployed semi-submersible vessels along the de facto maritime border with the South and is priming coastal artillery for a major military drill.
A military source here on Sunday said commanders of North Korean frontline units along the Northern Limit Line have bolstered combat readiness activities centering on artillery units. "Artillery aimed at the South in Haeju and Kangryong has been primed and is undergoing constant readiness checks," the source added.
Another high-ranking military officer here said, "The entire North Korean military is preparing for drills and it looks like a big exercise is about to take place early this month." The officer warned North Korea could repeat GPS jamming operations soon against South Korean civilian aircraft and ships.
The North is preparing to hold the drill at the same time as joint U.S.-South Korean exercises, which started earlier this month and continue until the end of April. This has never happened before, the officer said.
The South Korean military is wary of North Korean semi-submersibles, which are equipped with two torpedoes each and are extremely difficult to detect. Gen. Jeong Sung-jo, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a visit to a naval base on Saturday that a North Korean provocation is "inevitable" and ordered troops to be prepared to repel the North's semi-submersibles.
Intelligence agencies here believe the latest moves signal a possible preparation for an armed provocation in response to tougher sanctions by the international community after Pyongyang's nuclear test and the joint U.S.-South Korean military drills.