[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

North Korea announces live-fire exercises

South threatens swift retaliation if ordinance is fired across the border, after weeks of threats and N Korean tests.

Last updated: 31 Mar 2014 03:05
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
South Korea said there would be a response to any aggression [AP]

North Korea announced a live-fire drill near its disputed maritime border with South Korea, further ratcheting up tensions a day after threatening a "new form" of nuclear test.

There was a swift response from the South Korean military, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff warning of immediate retaliation if any ordinance is fired across the border.

The precise nature of the exercise was unclear, but the Yellow Sea border is an extremely sensitive region that has been the scene of brief but bloody clashes in the past.

In November, 2010, North Korea shelled a South Korean island near the border, killing four people and triggering concerns of a full-scale conflict.

It is not unusual for North Korea to carry out a live-fire exercise, but it does not normally take the precaution of notifying the South in advance.

"The fact that they have sent such a message to us indicates their hostile intention," said South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Wi Yong-Seop.

"The aim is to threaten us and rack up tension on the Yellow Sea border and the overall Korean peninsula," Wi said.

The North's notification designated seven areas close to the border and said all South Korean vessels should be kept away from them.

"We notified the North that we would strongly respond with fire if it fires across the border," a South Korean military official said.

Pyongyang has carried out a series of rocket and short-range missile launches in recent weeks, in a pointed protest at ongoing annual South Korea-US military exercises.

On Wednesday it upped the ante by test-firing two mid-range ballistic missiles capable of striking Japan.

It was the first medium-range missile launch since 2009 and coincided with a trilateral summit attended by the South, the United States and Japan that focused on presenting a united front to the dangers posed by Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

308

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
At least 25,000 displaced people have gathered on the northern border, with more on the way trying to escape attacks.
Remnants of deadly demonstrations to be displayed in a new museum, a year after protests pushed president out of power.
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.