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Rediff.com  » News » In PHOTOS: South and North Korea on brink of war again

In PHOTOS: South and North Korea on brink of war again

Last updated on: December 20, 2010 13:23 IST

South and North Korea on brink of war again

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The South Korean military on Monday fired shells into disputed waters in the Yellow Sea in a live-fire drill that could re-ignite tensions with North Korea.

According to the Guardian, ahead of the action, South Korea scrambled F-15K fighter jets, put Aegis warships on alert and evacuated residents of the nearby Yeonpyeong island into air-raid shelters amid North Korean warnings of 'catastrophe' if the exercise went ahead.

After two hours of live-fire, South Korea's military exercise ended.

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Image: People watch a news report featuring old video footage of a North Korean firing drill, at a railroad station in central Seoul in this December 20 photo
Photographs: Truth Leem/Reuters
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There was no immediate response yet from Pyongyang, suggesting either repurcussions will be delayed or last-minute diplomatic calls for restraint have paid off, the daily added.

On November 23, the last time Seoul conducted firing drills from Yeonpyeong close to the disputed maritime border off the west coast of the peninsula, North Korea shelled the island.

The bombardment killed two civilians and two marines in the worst attack on South Korean territory since the Korean War ended in 1953.


Image: A South Korean marine stands guard at a guard post on Yeonpyeong Island
Photographs: Newsis/Korea Pool/Reuters
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Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council failed to arrive at a consensus statement on the Korean crisis in a marathon meeting of its members after veto-wielding powers China and Russia did not agree with the western nations' demand to strongly condemn North Korea for last month's attack on a South Korean island



Image: A South Korean Army soldier patrols along the military barbed wire fence near the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul
Photographs: Jo Yong-Hak/Reuters
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The emergency meeting of the Security Council that went on for more than eight hours in various formal and non-formal forms failed to arrive at a consensus on the increasing tension in the Korean Peninsula.

The emergency meeting of the UNSC was convened at the request of Russia after Pyongyang termed "catastrophic" South Korea's decision to go for a daylong military exercise on Monday, and warned of retaliation.


Image: South Korean marines patrol on Yeonpyeong Island on December 20
Photographs: Newsis/Korea Pool/Reuters
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Ahead of the meeting, the Russian delegation had circulated a draft resolution, to which the three veto-powered countries the United States, Britain and France wanted to add the language of strong condemnation of the November 23 incident, which was apparently not agreed by China and Russia.




Image: A fishing boat sails past a South Korean navy ship patrolling off Yeonpyeong Island
Photographs: Newsis/Korea Pool/Reuters
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On Sunday night, South Korean marines ordered residents to move to air raid bunkers in anticipation of the drill.

South Korean marines carrying rifles conducted routine patrols as maritime surveillance aircraft flew overhead.



Image: Residents walk to leave Yeonpyeong Island by a boat at a port of the island December 19
Photographs: Newsis/Korea Pool/Reuters
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Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, regretted that the council could not arrive at a consensus on this issue at a critical time when the situation in the Korean Peninsula is very serious.

"We were trying to look for compromise and unfortunately we were not entirely successful," he said.


Image: Protesters shout slogans during an anti-war and anti-government rally in Seoul

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Philip Parham, British Deputy Permanent Representative & Charge d'Affaires in the UN Security Council meeting on the Korean Peninsula said the shelling of the Yeongpyong island was an unprovoked, premeditated, and unacceptable act, and a breach of the UN Charter and of the Armistice Agreement.


Image: South Korean marines patrol as residents board a ship to leave Yeonpyeong Island, at a port on the island
Photographs: Lee Sang-hak/Yonhap/Reuters
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US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said a majority of the UNSC members wanted a clear condemnation of the November 23 attack.

She said there have been two very serious attacks by North on Republic of South Korea over the last nine months.

"There is a history... The vast majority of the council thinks that that needs to be clearly stated and condemned," Rice said.



Image: US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, speaks following an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council regarding tensions between North and South Korea at the UN Headquarters in New York
Photographs: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
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"I think the vast majority of the members of the Council believe that it would not be productive for there to be a statement that was ambiguous in some fashion about what had transpired in the run up to today and simply to pretend that time began today. That's not the case," she said.

Meanwhile, China asked the two Koreas to exercise "maximum restraint," state media reported Monday. China is the isolated North's sole major ally and provides it with a crucial fuel and food lifeline.



Image: South Korean marines patrol on Yeonpyeong Island
Photographs: Lee Sang-hak/Yonhap/Reuters
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