Seoul (AFP) Dec 6, 2010
South Korea's military began a major live-fire exercise Monday amid high tensions on the divided peninsula following North Korea's deadly bombardment of a border island last month.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the five-day series of drills would take place in 29 locations off South Korea, despite the North's claims that it could trigger war.
It was unclear whether one of the firing drills -- near the flashpoint disputed Yellow Sea border -- had begun as earlier announced.
YTN television said around midday that firing had not yet started off Daecheong island. A JCS spokesman said he had no confirmation of the report.
In a shock bombardment of Yeonpyeong island on November 23, the North killed two civilians and two marines and destroyed 29 homes, sending regional tensions soaring.
The North maintained it was retaliating for a South Korean artillery drill which had lobbed some shells into waters it claims as its territory.
Yeonpyeong has been excluded from this week's drills, which military officials said would involve the army, navy and air force.
Pyongyang Sunday described the exercise as an attempt to trigger a war.
"The frantic provocations on the part of the puppet group (Seoul government) are rapidly driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to an uncontrollable extreme phase," the North's official news agency said.
"I don't dwell on North Korea's response as it does not deserve even a little consideration," said the South's new defence minister Kim Kwan-Jin, who last week vowed to hit back with air strikes against any new attack.
The South's artillery fired back on November 23 at the North's artillery units but its response was widely seen as weak and ineffective.
More troops and weaponry are being sent to five frontline islands "so that we will be able to respond resolutely to any provocations", Prime Minister Kim Hwang-Sik said Monday.
He said the government would spend 30 billion won (26 million dollars) helping Yeonpyeong residents, most of whom fled to the mainland after the shelling.
"We will make the utmost efforts to ensure the villagers can go back home with no fear and return to work as normal," the prime minister said, promising to rebuild shattered homes and provide incentives to encourage people to return home and encourage settlement by newcomers.
South Korea and the United States last week staged their biggest-ever naval exercise off the peninsula as a warning to the North. The largest ever US-Japan war games got under way separately Friday.
The North's bombardment, the first of civilian areas in the South since the war, came less than two weeks after it put a new and apparently operational uranium enrichment plant on show to US visitors.
The North says the plant is for peaceful purposes. But US experts and officials say it could easily be reconfigured to make weapons-grade uranium to supplement an existing plutonium stockpile.
Analysts say the display of nuclear prowess and the bombardment are designed to burnish the military credentials of Kim Jong-Un, son of leader Kim Jong-Il and his heir apparent.
They say the North also appears to be pressuring the United States and other parties to restart nuclear negotiations and aid.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will hold talks Monday with foreign ministers Kim Sung-Hwan of South Korea and Japan's Seiji Maehara to forge a strategy for dealing with the North.
All three nations have responded coolly to a proposal by China, the North's sole major ally, for an emergency meeting of envoys to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks, which are currently stalled.
In addition to the Yeonpyeong attack, Maehara has said they will discuss North Korea's uranium enrichment and other nuclear developments.
China has not publicly condemned its ally for the shelling attack, but is pushing to restart the six-party talks it has hosted since 2003.
These also group the two Koreas, the United States, Russia and Japan but have been stalled for the past two years.
Washington, Seoul and Tokyo oppose a return to the negotiations until Pyongyang shows it is serious about nuclear disarmament.
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd praised South Korea's "great restraint" during the crisis.
Rudd said the South's live-fire exercises had been staged for decades but had faced an "abnormal" response from the North this year.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com
Learn about missile defense at SpaceWar.com
All about missiles at SpaceWar.com
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com
Obama: US-S.Korean alliance 'stronger than ever'
Washington (AFP) Dec 4, 2010
The US-South Korean alliance is "stronger than ever," President Barack Obama said Saturday in the wake a deadly North Korean assault on its southern neighbor. "At a time in which there are increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula following the North's unprovoked attack on the South Korean people, today we are showing that the defense alliance and partnership of the United States and South ... read more
Neptec Wins Canadian Space Agency Contract To Develop A New Generation Of Lunar Rovers|
Mission to far side of moon proposed
Mining On The Moon Is A Not-So-Distant Possibility
A Softer Landing on the Moon
Opportunity Making Progress To Endeavour Crater
Spain Supplies Weather Station For Next Mars Rover
Pits, Flows, Other Scenes In New Set Of Mars Images
IceBite Blog: Remote Control
NSS Calls On Congress To Pass NASA Authorization Act Of 2010
Can We Grow Crops On Other Planets
Courting India In Space
China lags in scientific literacy
Roster Of Runways Ready To Bring A Shuttle Home
Demanding Design Boosts Shuttle Engine
NASA postpones Discovery launch to mid-December
New York wants space shuttle for museum
NASA Seeks Nonprofit To Manage ISS National Lab Research
Expedition 25 Returns Home
Crews approved for space station mission
Soyuz crew land safely on earth from ISS
NASA Sets Coverage For COTS 1 Launch
Hylas-1 In Orbit Brings Europe Broadband From Space
Ariane rocket puts telecom satellites into orbit
45th Space Wing Launches NRO Satellite
Super-Earth Has An Atmosphere, But Is It Steamy Or Gassy
First Super-Earth Atmosphere Analyzed
Super Earth Could Be Steaming Hot Or Full Of Gas
500th 'extrasolar' planet discovered
Thales announces venture for Chinese in-flight systems
Japan moves on AWACS radar upgrade kits
Viacom wants new ruling in YouTube copyright case
German scientist eyes gold mine in rare earths recycling
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|