Night Watch

South Korea-North Korea: North Korea conducted a live-fire coastal artillery exercise just north of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) off the west coast of South Korea. South Korean officials reported that none of the 50 or so shells fell in South Korean waters.

Firing began around 14:00 local time at two locations. "The North's shells hit the water about 3km north of the NLL," a spokesman from the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Comment: In statements over the weekend, North Korea said that it would continue its artillery fire and rocket launches. The episodes of shelling this year constitute the most practice the coastal gunners have gotten in years. The action is intended to be provocative, but not too much so because North Korea sent a fax to the South Korean Navy's Second Fleet advising it of the planned exercise.

South Korea's defense ministry warned the North of "stern measures" should North Korean shells cross the Northern Limit Line (NLL).

New capabilities claimed. Yesterday's National Defense Commission's statement denouncing the US President's visit contained the following paragraphs.

"This time, Obama and Park Geun-hye also wailed that we have rounded off all the preparations to press ahead with another round of nuclear tests, and our nuclear weapons can rock the world in its entirety."

"At present, the world is putting out views and speculations that another round of nuclear tests and the rocket firing that we have forecast would be the testing of a series of amplified nuclear fission bomb -- which has never been heard of before -- and would be the introduction of a new, high-speed ICBM that can strike even the depth of the US mainland."

"If we are urged to tell the truth, we confirm that we are capable of taking steps more than that."

Comment: The excerpt above looks like an example of the old Soviet propaganda practice of reinforcing an enemy's mistaken belief. The North never mentions specific, new capabilities in public statements for the obvious reason that it would cue South Korean and Allied intelligence. However, it often uses public statements to take advantage of media exaggerations of its capabilities. The statement actually confirms nothing.

North Korea-Russia: Authorities from Russia's southeastern Amur region signed an economic cooperation agreement with North Korea's Foreign Trade Ministry, according to a report from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).


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