(Edited from AP, Seoul) For four days, U.S. and South Korean troops fired artillery into the skies and dropped anti-submarine bombs on underwater targets – dramatic exercises meant to warn North Korea not to strike again.

The South Korean military said the show of force, which ended Wednesday, succeeded in sending a pointed warning to North Korea four months after the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship.

(Edited from AP, Seoul) For four days, U.S. and South Korean troops fired artillery into the skies and dropped anti-submarine bombs on underwater targets – dramatic exercises meant to warn North Korea not to strike again.

The South Korean military said the show of force, which ended Wednesday, succeeded in sending a pointed warning to North Korea four months after the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship.

Indeed, the shiny armada of destroyers and stealth fighter jets – led by a nuclear-powered supercarrier that at 97,000 tons is one of the world’s largest – appeared to have muted the regime.

After days of threatening to wage a powerful nuclear strike in response to the drills, North Korea issued a feeble call Wednesday for the U.S. to drop its “hostile policy” against Pyongyang.

However, some analysts say it’s too early to claim success against the unpredictable North.

Jeung Young-tae of the government-funded Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul said the drills could provide just the excuse the regime needs to carry out another act of nuclear defiance: a nuclear test.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said no unusual military activity has been detected this week in the North, and called the joint drills a resounding success.

He said the U.S. and South Korea showed off some “impressive firepower” and demonstrated the allies’ solidarity. Another round of joint exercises is due to take place in August.

However, the military parade of 20 warships, 200 aircraft and 8,000 U.S. and South Korean soldiers may reinforce Pyongyang’s resolve to keep building its nuclear program, some analysts said.

Pyongyang is believed to have enough weaponized plutonium to build at least half-dozen bombs, and last year admitted to enriching uranium, which would give it a second way to make nuclear bombs.

North Korea has tested two atomic weapons underground, in 2006 and in 2009, and has test-fired a long-range missile built to strike the western U.S.

Analyst Paik Hak-soon of the Sejong Institute near Seoul said both a nuclear test and test-fire of a long-range missile could be in the cards.

One analyst doubted that the impoverished North is preparing more provocations, with China – its main benefactor and traditional ally – likely urging North Korea to return to nuclear disarmament talks instead.

North Korea walked away from the six-nation disarmament-for-aid talks last year.

“North Korea has talked about retaliation based on its ‘nuclear deterrent,’ but it has to think about its relations with China and its international isolation,” said Baek Seung-joo of the state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul.

“North Korea displayed a hard-line stance but it may only be a face-saving measure,” he said. “It’s likely that North Korea and China are discussing resuming the six-party talks now.”

A senior Chinese envoy, Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue, was in North Korea on Wednesday with a delegation from Beijing, state-run Xinhua news agency said.

In the midst of the military show on the East Sea, with helicopters dropping sonar buoys, F-18 fighters embarking on bombing runs and destroyers firing at unmanned aerial drones, the U.S. and the two Koreas marked the day 57 years ago this week that a truce ended the Korean War.

“The Korean peninsula has not been entirely at peace for the past 57 years,” Gen. Walter Sharp, commander of U.S. forces in South Korea and the U.S.-led U.N. Command, said in a ceremony Tuesday at the DMZ.

In Pyongyang, military officers in uniforms bedecked with medals laid bouquets at a war memorial, according to footage aired by TV news agency APTN.

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