October 10, 2019 13:48
The military has halted fire drills of multiple-launch rocket systems on Baeknyeong and Yeonpyeong islands near the North Korean coast since an inter-Korean military agreement last year but was ill repaid by the North's continuing missile tests.
The military stationed the Chunmoo MLRS on the islands in 2017, in order to bolster their defensive capabilities against a North Korean provocation. The Chunmoo has a maximum range of 80 km and can neutralize North Korean long-range artillery.
But it has conducted no drills with them since Seoul and Pyongyang signed the Sept. 19 military agreement pledging to cease hostile activities.
According to information the Marines provided to Liberty Korea Party lawmaker Chong Jong-sup on Wednesday, the Marines test-fired some 60 rounds from the Chunmoo in 2017, but none since 2018.
A military source said, "The Chunmoo stationed on the northwestern islands were the only ones capable of live-fire testing, but the Sept. 19 agreement prevented us from firing rounds into nearby waters and units capable of live-fire testing the Chunmoo disappeared."
The two Koreas designated the entire northwestern maritime area as a "peace zone."
Instead, the Marines plan to send just three soldiers to a firing range in Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province in November to conduct a firing drill. They will transport the Chunmoo from the two islands to Uljin next year.
A spokesman for the Marines said, "We maintain the same training regimen and level of readiness as before Sept. 19."
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