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Iran Press TV

South Korea claims 'unusual' rise in military plane activities by North

Iran Press TV

Friday, 24 April 2020 9:56 AM

The South Korean defense minister says North Korea has recently shown an "unusual increase" in inspecting the country's combat readiness and carrying out air force flight operations.

Jeong Kyeong-doo made the claim on Friday, saying the move has led to the heightening of tension in the region.

"North Korea has been heightening military tensions through an unusual increase in the inspection activities for its combat readiness posture, mostly of its artillery, and in its air force planes' flight operations," South Korea's official Yonhap news agency quoted Jeong as saying.

The defense minister also accused the North of concentrating on its weapons development while remaining unresponsive to offers for talks over the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

A South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff officer had earlier warned of an increase in North Korea's surveillance activities in skies near its demarcation line with China over the Yellow Sea, adding that some maritime and air spaces over the body of water have not been clearly claimed either by Pyongyang or Beijing.

Last Tuesday, North Korea fired what appeared to be surface-to-ship cruise missiles off its east coast. On the same day, Pyongyang also flew Sukhoi-variant fighter jets and MiG-type planes above the eastern coastal city of Wonsan, and fired multiple air-to-ground missiles into the East Sea.

Since December last year, the country has test-fired multiple rockets and missiles. Back then, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended a moratorium on the country's missile tests and said North Korea would soon develop a "new strategic weapon."

The ending of the moratorium came after the United States repeatedly refused to relieve any of the sanctions on the North even though Pyongyang had taken several goodwill steps in the course of the now-stalled diplomacy with Washington.

The United Nations Security Council, the US, South Korea, and other bodies have slapped multiple sets of sanctions on Pyongyang over its weapons programs.

Trump slams 'fake' report on Kim's health

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump denounced on Thursday as "incorrect" and "fake" a CNN report claiming that the North Korean leader was in bad health.

"I think the report was incorrect," Trump said during a press conference in Washington DC. "We have a good relationship with North Korea. I have a good relationship with Kim Jong-un and I hope he's okay. And somebody says that's terrible. No it is not terrible. I hope he is OK and I think it was a fake report."

Citing an anonymous US official with access to intelligence, the CNN published a report on Monday and said Kim was in "grave danger" after a cardiovascular surgery.

Government sources in Seoul and Beijing also contradicted the CNN report.

There has been speculation about Kim's health following his absence from a major event on April 15 that marked the birth anniversary of his grandfather and North Korea's founding father, Kim Il-sung.

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