flareneld's oven: US and South Korea pursue military exercises

Saturday, November 27, 2010

US and South Korea pursue military exercises

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US and South Korea begin military exercises

USS George Washington - 24/11/10 China has expressed concern about military activity so close to its territory
South Korea and the United States have begun four days of joint military exercises in the waters off the Korean west coast.

The US says they are defensive exercises designed to deter North Korea from launching further attacks across its border with the South.
North Korea's shelling of a South Korean island last week left two marines and two civilians dead.
North Korea has condemned the exercises as a provocation.
China has also expressed concern about military activity by foreign navies so close to its territory, and has warned the Americans not to stray too close.
The BBC's Chris Hogg, in the South Korean capital Seoul, says military sources there say that planning for the war games began before North Korea's deadly attack on Yeonpyeong island. But they add that the intensity of the live fire and bombing drills will now be stepped up.
The US aircraft carrier the USS George Washington and four other US navy vessels are being joined by South Korean destroyers, patrol vessels, frigates, support ships and anti-submarine aircraft.
The drills are taking place about 125km (77 miles) south of the disputed maritime border between the two Koreas, about 40km off the Korean coast.

North Korea: Timeline 2010

26 March: South Korean warship, Cheonan, sinks, killing 46 sailors
20 May: Panel says a North Korean torpedo sank the ship; Pyongyang denies involvement
July-September: South Korea and US hold military exercises; US places more sanctions on Pyongyang
29 September: North holds rare party congress seen as part of father-to-son succession move
29 October: Troops from North and South Korea exchange fire across the land border
12 November: North Korea shows US scientist new - undeclared - uranium enrichment facility
23 November: North shells island of Yeonpyeong, killing at least four South Koreans

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The aircraft carrier is likely to be stationed further south in international waters, but still technically within striking range of Chinese cities.
A statement from North Korea's official KCNA news agency said: "If the US brings its carrier to the West Sea of Korea (Yellow Sea), no-one can predict the ensuing consequences."
On Saturday, North Korea accused the South of using civilians as human shields on Yeonpyeong island.
The North's state media said the South was using the deaths of the two civilians for propaganda, in its words "creating the impression that the defenceless civilians were exposed to indiscriminate shelling from the North".
Pyongyang said it had been provoked by the South's military exercises, which were being carried out close to Yeonpyeong. It said the North had sent a "telephone notice" on the morning of the shelling "to prevent the clash at the last moment" but the South continued its "provocation".
South Korea says two men in their 60s, who were working on the island, were killed by the shells.
The funeral service for the two marines who died, Seo Jeong-woo and Moon Kwang-wook, was held on Saturday at a military hospital in Seongnam, close to Seoul, and was broadcast on television nationwide.
Hundreds of government and military officials, politicians, religious leaders, activists and civilians attended. Among them were Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik.
The US has called on China, North Korea's only ally, to increase its pressure on Pyongyang to prevent further incidents.
China has said its "top priority" is to keep the situation under control. Beijing has begun a series of talks in an attempt to ease the tension.
However, the top US military commander, Admiral Mike Mullen, said he did not know "why China doesn't push harder" with Pyongyang.
In an interview with CNN due to be broadcast on Sunday but released as a transcript, Adm Mullen said Beijing appeared to mistakenly believe it could control North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il.
"I'm not sure he is controllable," Adm Mullen said.
South Korea has increased its troop numbers on Yeonpyeong and says it will change its rules of engagement to allow it to respond more forcefully if incidents such as Tuesday's happen again.
The tension comes as the North is undergoing an apparent transition of power from Kim Jong-il to his young son Kim Jong-un.

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