Exchange of warning shots between the two Koreas

New tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang. The two Koreas exchanged warning shots on Monday morning, accusing each other of having breached the disputed maritime border with one of their ships, a new episode in a tense context for several weeks. First, a North Korean merchant boat breached the said Northern Limit Line, near Baengnyeong Island, at 3:42 a.m. local time, then reportedly retreated north after warning shots from the southern navy. -Korean, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. “The North’s continued provocations and thoughtless claims undermine the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the international community,” the same source said in a statement, urging Pyongyang to “stop them immediately.”

For its part, the Pyongyang army claimed that a South Korean military vessel violated the de facto border of 2.5 to 5 kilometers a few minutes later and the North Korean army (APC) responded by firing ten warning shots to his attention from his west coast. “APC Western Littoral Defense Units took a first countermeasure intended to powerfully repel the enemy warship by firing ten multiple rocket launcher shells towards territorial waters, where an enemy naval movement was detected, at 5:15 a.m.,” a spokesperson for the APC general staff said in a statement.

“We have once again issued a stern warning to the enemies behind maritime provocations which come in addition to artillery fire and the broadcasting of cross-border messages through loudspeakers,” a spokesperson for the army said. North Korean Army General Staff.

Heightened tensions

The maritime “buffer zone” was established in a 2018 agreement intended to prevent tensions between the two Koreas. But they have intensified in recent weeks, with Pyongyang carrying out several missile launches and artillery barrages in the waters of its east and west coasts, targeting this border, considered provocative by South Korea and Japan.

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North Korea has also recently ramped up weapons tests described as simulated “tactical nuclear” strikes against targets in South Korea. Seoul and Washington expect that Pyongyang, which considers itself threatened by American, South Korean and Japanese military maneuvers in the region, will soon resume its nuclear tests, which would be the seventh. Tensions have steadily escalated on the Korean Peninsula since the start of the year.

South Korea recently carried out live-fire exercises and the United States, its main ally, deployed a nuclear aircraft carrier to the region to carry out large-scale trilateral maneuvers also involving Tokyo. Last month, North Korea also declared that its status as a nuclear power was “irreversible”, definitively closing the door to any disarmament negotiations, and let it be known that it authorized itself to carry out preventive strikes in the event of a threat. .

No consensus

“The incursion of the merchant ship and the artillery fire from the North demonstrate the lack of consensus regarding the Northern Limit Line,” Cheong Seong-chang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute, told AFP. “The North could later try to make it obsolete with the canvas of the confidence that it will have, on a military level, in its tactical nuclear arsenal”, according to him.

Monday’s warning firefight comes the day Deputy US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman travels to Japan for three-way talks with Tokyo and Seoul, both Washington allies, in a show of unity after the series of fire from North Korea. Pyongyang claims to be responding to “provocations” from Seoul and has described these weapons tests as simulations of “tactical nuclear strikes” against targets in South Korea.

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