A spokesman at South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, who declined to be named because of military policy, made the comments by telephone today in Seoul. South Korea was planning to conduct the exercises between today and Dec. 21, a spokesman at the Joint Chiefs said yesterday.
Shelling by South Korea “would make it impossible to prevent the situation on the Korean Peninsula from exploding,” North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement distributed today via the state-run Korean Central News Agency. North Korea has already said it would “mete out decisive and merciless punishment” if its sovereignty is violated, and it “does not make an empty talk,” according to the statement.
A barrage of shells from North Korea hit South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island last month killing two civilians and two soldiers, setting 30 houses ablaze and scorching 25 hectares (62 acres) of land. North Korea’s firing on Yeonpyeong was the first shelling of South Korean soil since the 1950-1953 war.
U.S. State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said the latest planned drill “is a perfectly legitimate step” by South Korea. About 20 U.S. military personnel will be sent to the island to assist, said a South Korean defense ministry official who declined to be named, citing government policy.
China said it’s “deeply concerned” about the “extremely precarious” situation on the peninsula, Xinhua News Agency reported today, citing Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun.
Igor Morgulov, a director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Asian department, expressed “extreme concern” over North Korea’s readiness to use military force in a phone call yesterday with North Korean Ambassador Kim Yong-Jae.
“All contentious issues between the two Koreas should be resolved by the resumption of dialogue and exclusively by political and diplomatic means,” said Morgulov in a statement on the Foreign Ministry’s website.
South Korea’s Unification Minister held a meeting early today to review the situation at Mt. Geumgang resort, which is located in North Korea, Yonhap News said, citing an unidentified ministry official.
The ministry is “closely watching” the situation and is reviewing emergency measures after North Korea’s threat to respond to South Korean artillery drills, Yonhap said.
South Korea issued a warning to civilian ships yesterday on the website of the Korea Hydrographic and Oceanographic Administration.
North Korea doesn’t recognize the western sea border demarcated by the United Nations after the war and demands it should be drawn further south to include Yeonpyeong and neighboring islands in North Korean waters.
“No one in the world would allow those who drew a line inside other’s court, without its owner’s knowledge, and insist it belongs to them and shamelessly conduct saber-rattling to preserve it,” KCNA said in its statement yesterday.
Retaliation to any further attack would include airstrikes, South Korea’s Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin said on Dec. 3.
cloudy with a chance of ...?