May 18, 2020 13:48
The South Korean military has postponed a massive live-fire drill for the Army, Navy and Air Force from this week to June because of "bad weather."
Some critics accuse military authorities for trying not to agitate North Korea amid a quixotic government initiative to interest Pyongyang in cross-border business projects. A military spokesman on Sunday blamed "squalls and rain" that have been forecast.
The drill plan envisions identifying targets with detection devices and launching strikes against any armed provocation in the East Sea. The multiple rocket launcher Chunmoo and Apache helicopters of the Army, the Harpoon and Haeseong-1 ship-to-ship missiles of the Navy, and FA-50 fighter jets of the Air Force were slated to be mobilized.
Earlier, the Defense Ministry declined to confirm whether the drill would be staged. Although it has been staged regularly until recently, the military has used a different yardstick each time whether to make it public or not.
On May 8, Cheong Wa Dae officials called a meeting with military officers after the North protested about an earlier drill to defend the northwesternmost islands. A Cheong Wa Dae spokesman denied the meeting had anything to do with the North Korean protest, but that seems to have been its sole purpose since it was hastily called right after the protest.
On Sunday, the North's propaganda website Uriminzokkiri claimed the island-defense drill was a "full violation of the inter-Korean military agreement."
In fact it was conducted in waters off Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, not in the putative maritime "peace zone" in the West Sea set up by the cross-border military agreement of September 2018.
North Korea itself only a week earlier violated the agreement by shooting at a South Korean guard post in the demilitarized zone.
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