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Entries in Artillery Test (2)

Monday
Dec202010

No Signs of North Korean Retaliation After South Korean Live-Fire Drills

Photo Courtesy - Kim Jae-Hwan/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- South Korea's military conducted hour-long live-fire artillery drills from Yeonpyong Island near the west sea Monday amid threats from North Korea that it will retaliate on a massive scale.  The island was shelled by North Korea last month, resulting in the deaths of two civilians and two marines.

South Korea sent navy warships with missile capabilities and fighter jets to roam the area in case North Korea attacks again.  So far, there have been no immediate signs of any North Korean retaliation.

At the center of the dispute is the maritime border.  South Korea recognizes a northern boundary drawn after the Korean War in 1953.  North Korea began to insist in 1999 that the border should be further south.  There are five small islands within that area where thousands of South Koreans reside, protected by the military forces.

South Korea's navy has been conducting drills every month for the past 37 years, according to a high-level official from the Ministry of Defense.  Seoul insists these drills are not designed to intimidate the North and stressed that the live-fire is aimed towards the southeast, away from North Korean territory.

Monday's drills were observed by representatives of the United Nations Military Armistice Commission and the U.S. military forces.

Residents on Yeonpyong Island have often been victims of small-scale skirmishes that have occurred in the past, and they have been ordered, along with officials and journalists, to stay inside underground bunkers.  The South Korean military has distributed gas masks and food to last for at least two days.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec162010

US to Keep Close Tab on South Korean Artillery Test

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(YEONPYEONG, South Korea) -- America is closely monitoring an upcoming South Korean military exercise on two disputed islands which could potentially provoke North Korea, a senior Pentagon official said Thursday.

One of the islands on which the live-fire exercise will take place is Yeonpyeong, the same Yellow Sea island that North Korea attacked last month.

Gen. James Cartwright said the exercise is routine and the South Koreans have done everything to ensure North Korea would not perceive the test as a provocation, but warned there was a possibility of a “chain reaction.”

“So what we're watching, one, is to make sure that all of the artillery, the shore batteries, et cetera, are in fact set up so we have trainers and monitors that are with the South Koreans to make sure everything from a standpoint of training goes right. The impact area is out in the water.  Not pointed towards the land. All of that is understood,” he said.

However, Cartwright acknowledged that the North Koreans could potentially use the exercise as a pretext to begin firing.

“What we worry about obviously is that if that is misunderstood or if it is taken advantage of as an opportunity, if North Korea were to react to that in a negative way and fire back at those firing positions on the islands, that would start  potentially a chain reaction of firing and counter-firing.  What you don't want to have happen now to that is for the escalation for us to lose control of the escalation. That's the concern,” he said.

“The area that they're going to conduct these live fire drills is an established and well-used range. So it is not a new activity and it is not one that the North Koreans haven't seen on a routine basis,” Cartwright said.

Cartwright said there would be 15 U.S. troops observing from one island and another six on the other. He also said the international media and the U.N. would observe the exercise.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio