News / Asia

South Korea Concludes Artillery Drill

South Koreans watch a live TV breaking news about South Korea's live fire artillery at Seoul train station in Seoul, 20 Dec 2010
South Koreans watch a live TV breaking news about South Korea's live fire artillery at Seoul train station in Seoul, 20 Dec 2010

South Koreans are anxiously waiting to see if North Korea will make good on its threat to take military action in response to an artillery drill on Yeonpyeong island. The exercise came just hours after an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council failed to ease tensions, and after an American politician said North Korea is willing to accept nuclear inspections.

South Korea defied diplomatic pressure and went ahead Monday with firing artillery into the Yellow Sea for 94 minutes, escalating its confrontation with the communist North.

Defense officials stress the shelling was to the southwest, away from North Korea. But North Korea claims that area is its territory and, in the days since the drill was announced, has warned it could lead to war.

In Seoul, Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun termed the live-fire exercise routine and legitimate.

Kim says the artillery drill is for self-defense and part of the country's sovereign right.

A few hours before the exercise, the United Nations Security Council failed to reach a consensus on lowering tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Diplomats say China, among other nations, would not back a statement condemning North Korea for recent aggressive behavior, including the shelling of Yeonpyeong island last month.

After the U.N. talks failed, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice defended South Korea's decision to go ahead with the artillery drill. She noted the two fatal attacks this year blamed on North Korea - the sinking in March of a South Korean navy ship and last month's shelling of Yeonpyeong island.

"If the events of the last year have shown anything it is that the Republic of Korea has every need and right to ready its self defense having lost 50 citizens simply over the course of the last nine months," said Rice.

A Chinese vice foreign minister on Monday renewed his country's call for more talks and said no one has the right to provoke conflict on the Korean peninsula.

Also Monday, a veteran American diplomatic troubleshooter wrapped up a trip to Pyongyang. He was quoted by the CNN news network as saying the North Koreans have agreed to allow U.N. nuclear inspectors back into the country.

Former ambassador Bill Richardson (the governor of New Mexico) was quoted as saying the North Koreans also agreed to negotiate the sale of 12,000 fresh fuel rods so they could be shipped out of the country.

For seven years, the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea have tried to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programs in return for aid and greater diplomatic recognition. Despite agreeing to do so, Pyongyang has tested nuclear weapons and recently revealed a new fuel production facility.

Members of South Korea's political opposition unsuccessfully appealed to President Lee Myung-bak to cancel Monday's artillery training.

Democratic Party lawmaker Chung Dong-Young is a former cabinet minister who previously negotiated with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

"It['s] irresponsible of the president if he panders to the tastes of the conservative forces," he said. "The president should be responsible if the artillery fire from Yeonpyeong island brings another dangerous exchange of fire, which might go out of control."

Last month, conservatives criticized the president for not responding forcefully to the North Korean attack, which killed four South Koreans.

In the early 1950's, the two Koreas fought a three-year year. A truce has been in place since 1953, but no peace treaty has been signed.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid