October 20, 2017 10:08
North Korea is distributing live ammunition to soldiers and security personnel, the Asahi Shimbun reported on Thursday.
The Asahi Shimbun said the North is moving to a "quasi-war footing" in response to joint South Korean-U.S. naval drills that began on Monday.
"Live ammunition is being distributed to members of the military... to counter any threats that may arise from the exercises off the Korean Peninsula," the daily said citing a source. "They have been effectively placed on a quasi-war footing."
"North Korea normally stockpiles live ammo in arsenals as a precaution against accidents, and only arms its border patrol and troops deployed in the forward area close to the border of South Korea," the daily added.
The joint naval drills, which end this week, involve about 40 naval vessels including the USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
The daily stressed the need to strengthen deterrence against the North. "Tokyo, as well as Washington and Seoul, believes that North Korea remains on alert to launch ballistic missiles at a moment's notice," it said.
Meanwhile, North Korea denounced the drills by issuing a warning. "The U.S. should expect that it would face unimaginable strike at an unimaginable time," the official (North) Korean Central News Agency said.
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