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2008/02/10 10:06 KST
N. Korea appears to divert oil for military training: source

   SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has been increasing ground and air maneuvers since December, military sources said Sunday, amid concerns that the North might have been diverting some of the heavy fuel oil provided under a multilateral denuclearization deal.

   South Korea and four other countries in the six-party nuclear talks provided more than 100,000 tons of heavy oil to the North last year under the nuclear deal in exchange for the North's disablement of its nuclear facilities and declaration of all of its nuclear programs by the end of last year.

   In return, Pyongyang was also supposed to receive other economic and political benefits, although the talks stalled recently over the North's failure to provide a complete list of its nuclear programs.

   "Intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States have been analyzing the sharp increase in the North's winter maneuvering of armoured units," a military soure said Sunday. "They have recently conducted both armoured unit maneuvers and artillery strike training concurrently, although they had usually focused on artillery strikes."
The source attributed the increased mechanized unit maneuvering to improvement in oil supply in the North, questioning the source of the oil spent on the military training amid skyrocketing crude prices in the international market.

   Another source said North Korea might be appropriating the heavy fuel oil provided under the nuclear deal and diverting some cash taken from inter-Korean economic cooperation projects to military use.

   "We understand North Korea has been enhancing the number of flights flown for training," he said.
The North's enhanced military training appears to counter the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise, Key Resolve, scheduled to take place on March 2-7 in South Korea to embrace U.S. reinforcement forces in case of war.

   Nuclear-propelled aircraft carrier USS Nimits is to take part in the training.