Print Story: SKorea to conduct firing drills from border island - Yahoo! News
SKorea to conduct firing drills from border island
28 mins ago
YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea – South Korea said it was going forward Monday with live firing drills from a front-line island despite North Korea's threat to retaliate, sharply ramping up tensions as the U.N. failed to find any solution.
Marines will conduct the one-day artillery drills on Yeonpyeong Island — shelled by a North Korean artillery barrage last month — and the exact timing will depend on weather conditions, an officer at the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
South Korea's military will "immediately and sternly" deal with any possible provocation by North Korea, the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity citing department rules.
Residents, local officials and journalists on the island were ordered to evacuate to underground shelters because of possible attacks by North Korea. Residents of four other front-line islands also were ordered to take shelter, said Won Ji-young, a spokesman for Ongjin County.
The Defense Ministry said the artillery drills were to be staged sometime Monday afternoon. The drills were to last about two hours and involve several types of weapons, including K-9 self-propelled guns, ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters, according to his office.
The North has warned of a "catastrophe" if South Korea goes ahead with the drills.
The North has said it would strike back harder than it did last month, when two South Korean marines and two civilians were killed on the island.
The U.N. Security Council failed Sunday to agree on a statement to address rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said the United States and other council members demanded that the council condemn North Korea for two deadly attacks this year that have helped send relations to their lowest point in decades. But diplomats said China strongly objected.
After eight hours of closed-door consultations Sunday, Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who called the emergency council meeting, told reporters "we were not successful in bridging all the bridges."
Although some countries still need to consult capitals, Rice said "the gaps that remain are unlikely to be bridged."