Friday, August 12, 2011

Korean Artillery DIspute

Two days ago it was reported that South Korea "said North Korea fired artillery salvos near a disputed sea border" and that in response South Korea returned fire two times, once at about 1pm and again "around 7:46 p.m. when two more shells landed in the ocean." In response to the shootings, South Korea increased surveillance and air patrols, while US forces began to closely monitor the situation.

However, North Korea denies firing at South Korea, saying that "what South Korean military personnel and islanders heard was actually construction blasting inside North Korea." One anonymous North Korean military official went so far to say that what South Korea was arguing was nothing but 'sheer fiction.' There is speculation that the reason North Korea fired at South Korea was "because relations with the South are not progressing as Pyongyang desired, they want to raise tensions to put themselves in a more advantageous negotiating position."

The South Korean president threatened "to respond forcefully to provocations from the country's prickly northern neighbor." This attack comes only "after the shelling last November, which killed four people" and "the sinking of a   South Korean warship in March 2010, widely blamed on the North's navy."

What is also important to include is that this dispute "occurred barely a fortnight after the two Koreas’ nuclear envoys met for the first time in over two years" and a week after "a leading North Korean diplomat travelled to New York for talks with Washington’s top official on North Korean affairs." Even though all parties involved said that the talks were 'constructive,' this incident may at best, put the talks on hold for a while and at worst, end them entirely for quite some time. 

The talks raised hopes for the restart of the six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear weapons program, yet they may potentially crumble entirely as things heat up on the peninsula, with neither side wanting to look weak.

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