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Posts Tagged ‘drill’

S.Korea readies major military drill near tense border

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 4:29 am

SEOUL, Dec 22, 2010 (AFP) – South Korea prepared Wednesday for a major live-fire drill involving fighter jets and tanks near the tense North Korean border, as Seoul and Washington reacted warily to overtures from Pyongyang.

South Korea’s military said Thursday’s ground and air firing exercise 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of the mainland border would also involve self-propelled guns and 800 soldiers.

The South Korean Navy MSB (Movement Sea Base) floats off the coast of South Korea-controlled island of Yeonpyeong near the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea on December 22, 2010. AFP

Although similar drills have been held at the same firing range at Pocheon many times before, the latest exercise comes with Seoul on high alert for a possible attack from its wayward neighbour.

South Korea’s navy meanwhile began a four-day firing drill Wednesday off the east coast, a relatively distant 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of the border with the North, mobilising six warships plus helicopters.

The military said it would practise responses to intrusions by North Korean submarines and patrol boats.

And South Korean marines were posted to guard a Christmas tree that was lit up Tuesday near the land border, reflecting fears that the North might fire on the display as a propaganda symbol.

Tensions have been high since the North shelled an island near the contested western maritime border last month in response to a live-fire drill by the South. The bombardment of Yeonpyeong killed four people including civilians.

The South staged a repeat drill on Yeonpyeong Monday but the North did not go through with threats to hit back, saying it “did not feel any need to retaliate against every despicable military provocation”.

A senior South Korean military commander said Thursday’s drill at the Pocheon range would “demonstrate our solid military preparedness”.

“We will retaliate thoroughly if the North commits another provocative act like the shelling of Yeonpyeong,” First Armoured Battalion commander Choo Eun-Sik told Yonhap news agency.

The North’s comments late Monday eased fears of war on the peninsula, and it also reportedly offered nuclear concessions to visiting US politician Bill Richardson.

But Seoul and Washington have expressed scepticism about the apparent overtures, coming after an intense bout of sabre-rattling from Pyongyang, whose hardline communist regime is undergoing a generational power shift.

The United States said that North Korea was not even “remotely ready” to resume six-nation nuclear disarmament talks, despite the apparent concessions offered to New Mexico Governor Richardson on his private trip.

The White House made clear there was no change to US policy, despite Pyongyang’s reported offer to re-admit UN nuclear inspectors and sell off fuel rods which could be used to produce plutonium.

President Barack Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs said Pyongyang had, over many years and different US administrations, failed to match its words with actions.

“We’re not going to get a table and a room and have six-party talks just for the feel-good notion of having six-party talks,” he said.

“When and if the North Koreans are ever serious about living up to their obligations, then we can think about restarting six-party talks.”

North Korea pulled out of the nuclear talks — which involve the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, China, and Japan — in April 2009 and ordered UN nuclear inspectors out of the country.

It staged a second nuclear test a month later.

Its disclosure last month of an advanced uranium enrichment plant — purportedly to serve a peaceful nuclear power programme — heightened regional security fears.

Richardson, a veteran troubleshooter with the North who was formerly a US ambassador to the UN, unveiled Pyongyang’s apparent concessions after a visit that the White House stressed was unofficial and independent.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea holds major new drill as N.Korea raps ‘warmongers’

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 4:29 am

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea’s military Thursday held a live-fire drill involving tanks, artillery and jet fighters, in a major show of strength staged exactly a month after North Korea’s attack on a border island.

Washington expressed support for the live-fire exercise by its ally, the second this week, but Pyongyang criticised the South’s “puppet warmongers”.

AFP file – South Korean marines patrol Yeonpyeong island.

The South’s President Lee Myung-Bak, visiting a frontline army unit elsewhere, told troops to hit back hard for any new attack. He accused the North of letting its people starve while it spent money on nuclear bombs.

The exercise at the Pocheon range, 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the tense land border with North Korea, lasted about 40 minutes.

Some 800 troops took part along with 30 K-1 tanks, 11 K-200 armoured personnel carriers, two F-15K jets, four KF-16 jets, 36 K-9 artillery pieces, three multiple long-range rockets, four 500MD helicopters, three AH-1S Cobra helicopters, and other equipment.

The navy is also conducting a four-day exercise off the east coast, which began Wednesday.

The South says its drills are defensive. But tensions have been high on the peninsula since the North shelled a South Korean island near the contested western sea border on November 23.

The North said its shelling was in response to the South’s live-fire drill on Yeonpyeong island. The South said it had been staging such artillery exercises for 37 years and the North was seeking a pretext to attack.

Seoul staged a repeat drill on the same island on Monday, backed up by jet fighters and warships, but the North did not follow through with threats to hit back.

Some analysts said Seoul’s show of force deterred the North. Others said the hardline regime had been told by close ally China to exercise restraint before a visit to Washington by President Hu Jintao starting on January 19.

The military invited students and other civilians to watch the exercise.

“We are facing a crisis because of North Korea, so I came to see this air and ground operation,” Kim Tae-Dong, a 70-year-old Internet businessman, told a pool reporter.

“I want to feel and see the level of South Korea’s armed forces,” Kim said.

“Another North Korean provocation will happen. We should prepare our military perfectly for that.”

Analysts agreed, saying that while Pyongyang had shown restraint this time it was likely just biding its time for another military strike.

“It’s not a question of whether there will be another provocation, but when,” said Peter Beck, a North Korea expert with the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations.

The North’s official news agency said the South’s claims that the drills are routine were an attempt “to conceal the provocative and offensive nature of the exercises”.

The wording was relatively mild. In another sign that tensions are easing, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it had lowered a military alert issued for frontline areas before and during Monday’s drill.

Vulcan artillery vehicles fired into a wide valley with numbers carved on hills below to launch the show of strength.

Tanks raced along roads, firing as they went. A hillside blossomed smoke as artillery and rockets opened up.

Hovering helicopters fired rockets at targets, and F-15 aircraft dropped bombs into the valley, sending up huge plumes of smoke.

Lee, quoted by Yonhap news agency, said the military should retaliate without hesitation in case of another surprise attack.

The South’s military was heavily criticised for a perceived feeble response to last month’s attack. It has been stressing its battle-readiness and determination to hit back harder next time, using air power.

“We should make a stronger and bigger counter-strike so they cannot provoke us again,” Lee was quoted as saying.

“We’ve endured enough for long. We thought we could maintain peace on this land if we endured, but that was not the case,” Lee said. “Now we need to strongly retaliate to maintain peace, deter provocations and prevent war.”

People in the North, the president said, “are almost starving to death, and with the money spent to make atomic bombs, people can live”.

The United States, which has 28,500 troops based in the South, earlier warned North Korea there was no reason for it to respond to the latest drills.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the manoeuvres had been announced well in advance and were transparent and defensive, and “should in no way engender a response from the North Koreans”.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea resists pressure to cancel live-fire drill

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2010 at 8:27 am

 South Korea Sunday resisted pressure from Russia and China to cancel a live-fire exercise on a frontier island bombarded by North Korea last month.

The North has threatened “disaster” if the South stages the drill on Yeonpyeong Island near the disputed Yellow Sea border, where four people were killed in November.

“We have no plan to cancel our exercise,” a South Korean defence ministry spokesman told AFP, adding the one-day drill may take place on Monday or Tuesday.

The sun rises over South Korean Navy Movement Sea Base (MSB) off the South Korea-controlled island of Yeonpyeong near the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea, on December 19

The flare-up, coming in the wake of nuclear-armed North Korea revealing a uranium enrichment programme, has sparked alarm around the world.

On Sunday, a South Korean military aircraft was flying over Yeonpyeong, with marines on patrol near their seaside barracks.

The foreign ministers of China and Russia held telephone talks Saturday and called for restraint on the Korean peninsula as the UN Security Council prepared to hold talks over the situation.

“China firmly opposes any actions to cause tension and worsen the situation, and demands both sides on the peninsula show calmness and restraint,” Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said.

The Koreas must “carry out dialogue and contact, and completely avoid any actions that would fuel the tension,” Yang said.

China, North Korea’s sole major ally, has refrained from condemning Pyongyang over the bombardment despite calls for it to use its influence to intervene in the crisis.

The UN Security Council called a meeting for Sunday. Russia expressed anger that it was not organised earlier.

“We regret that. We believe that such a step by the president is a departure from the practice existing in the council,” Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said.

The United States rejected criticism of the arrangements for the meeting.

“This meets other Security Council members’ requests to have time to consult with their capitals and meets the Russian request for a timely meeting,” said US mission spokesman Mark Kornblau.

The UN Security Council has yet to make any statement over North Korea’s artillery attack last month, which left two marines and two civilians dead and damaged dozens of homes.

China has blocked demands for a strongly worded statement against Pyongyang and talks over a text are now in deadlock.

The first shelling of civilian areas since the 1950-53 war sparked outrage in the South, which rushed more troops and guns to frontline islands.

North Korea Saturday predicted “disaster” if South Korea goes ahead with the artillery exercise.

A foreign ministry statement accused US troops — some 20 of whom who will take part in the drill — of providing a “human shield” for the event.

The North said the exercise “would make it impossible to prevent the situation on the Korean peninsula from exploding and escape its ensuing disaster”.

It said its military has already threatened “decisive and merciless punishment” for such an action and “does not make an empty talk”.

US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley on Friday defended the South’s right to hold the drill in the face of North Korea’s “ongoing provocations”.

He said Washington trusts that the South “will be very cautious in terms of what it does”.

US politician Bill Richardson, who is visiting Pyongyang, described the situation as a “tinderbox”.

Richardson, a veteran troubleshooter who has previous experience with the North, said he urged Pyongyang officials to let the South go ahead with the drill.

“I’m urging them extreme restraint,” the New Mexico governor told CNN, saying he was “very, very strong with foreign ministry officials” during a dinner on Friday.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea to go ahead with fire drill despite N.Korea threat

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2010 at 10:26 am

South Korea’s military said Saturday it would go ahead with a live-fire drill on a border island bombarded by North Korea last month, despite the North’s threat to strike back again with deadlier firepower.

A South Korean Navy vessel berths at a Movement Sea Base (MSB) off the South Korea-controlled island of Yeonpyeong near the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea on December 17, 2010.

But an AFP photographer on Yeonpyeong island said the atmosphere was calm and a media report said the one-day training exercise — scheduled for sometime between Saturday and Tuesday — may be delayed till next week.

“There is no change in our stance with regards to the live-fire exercise,” a defence ministry spokesman told AFP. “We cannot confirm… whether we will carry out the exercise today.”

The North threatened Friday to “deal the second and third unpredictable self-defensive blow” if the artillery exercise goes ahead.

“It will be deadlier than what was made on November 23 in terms of the powerfulness and sphere of the strike,” it said.

Pyongyang disputes the Yellow Sea border drawn after the 1950-53 war and claims the waters around Yeonpyeong and other frontline islands as its own maritime territory.

The November 23 bombardment killed two marines and two civilians and damaged dozens of homes. It came after a firing drill into the sea by South Korean marines based on the island.

The North’s latest warning sharply raised the stakes in the regional crisis.

Russia urged South Korea not to go ahead with the exercise and China, the North’s sole major ally, said it opposed any action that would raise tensions.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun summoned South Korea’s ambassador Yu Woo-Ik Friday afternoon to express concern at the planned drill, Yonhap news agency quoted a diplomatic source as saying.

South Korea, outraged at the first shelling of civilian areas since the war, has fortified Yeonpyeong with more troops and artillery and vowed to use air power against any future attack.

Its military has said artillery will be aimed away from the North as usual during the upcoming drill, but it would respond strongly if provoked.

But a military source quoted by Yonhap said the firing might be delayed a day or two.

“Weather conditions are the most important factor in deciding the time for a drill. Early next week will be the most likely time to hold it because the weather should improve,” the source said.

Asked why weather was a factor, a military spokesman cited comments by a government source in Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

“The live-fire exercise itself will end in 1-2 hours, but since we have to prepare for North Korea’s provocation afterwards, there is a good possibility the exercise will be delayed to when the weather is good all day long,” the source was quoted as saying.

“It is highly likely that the drill will be held early next week.”

The South’s close ally the United States plans to send some 20 US soldiers to play a supporting role in the drill.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley Friday again defended the South’s right to hold the drill in the face of North Korea’s “ongoing provocations”.

But he said Washington trusts that the South “will be very cautious in terms of what it does”.

Pyongyang’s disclosure last month of an apparently working uranium enrichment plant — a potential new source of bomb-making material — has also heightened regional security fears.

The North’s website Uriminzokkiri said the drill could spark nuclear war.

“It is clear if war breaks out again in this land, a grave nuclear disaster will take place which will bear no comparison to the Korean War.”

US troubleshooter Bill Richardson said he urged North Korean officials during his current visit to Pyongyang to let the South go ahead with the drill.

“I’m urging them extreme restraint,” the New Mexico governor told CNN, saying he was “very, very strong with foreign ministry officials” during a dinner on Friday.

“I think I made a little headway,” Richardson said. “My sense from the North Koreans is that they are trying to find ways to tamp things down.”

Analyst Andrei Lankov said that for the first time in decades, a new war appeared to be a distinct probability.

Lankov, a professor at Seoul’s Kookmin University, said the Pyongyang regime seemed determined to escalate provocations, and South Korean society was in “unusually bellicose mood” after the last Yeonpyeong attack.

But in an article in Foreign Affairs magazine, Lankov said “the hard truth is that restraint is the only option for South Korea”.

Source: SGGP

N.Korea says ‘no-one can predict consequences’ of US drill

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea state media warned on Saturday that “no-one can predict the ensuing consequences” if a US carrier group goes ahead with a planned drill with the Republic of Korea (RoK) in the Yellow Sea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (C) visits the newly-built Soy Sauce Shop at the Ryongsong Foodstuff Factory in North Korea in this undated picture released by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency on November 24, 2010

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) statement came days after the hardline communist regime sharply heightened regional tensions with an artillery attack that killed two marines and two civilians on a RoK border island.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS George Washington and its battle group plans four days of exercises from Sunday with a flotilla of RoK warships in a show of force meant to deter Pyongyang.

The KCNA report labelled the United States “the arch-criminal who orchestrated the recent military clash”, in which RoK on Tuesday returned artillery fire at the North.

The report repeated Pyongyang’s claim that it attacked in response to RoK conducting a military exercise that lobbed shells into waters that the North regime regards as its own.

The KCNA report argued that its own “counter-shelling” was “a resolute and proper retaliation against the reckless military provocation of the enemy”, and argued that the US was then quick to take advantage of the clash.

“No sooner had the Yeonpyeong incident occurred than the US announced that it would stage joint naval exercises with the RoK puppet forces with nuclear-powered carrier George Washington,” the report said.

It went on to warn: “If the US brings its carrier to the West Sea of Korea at last, no one can predict the ensuing consequences”, using the Korean term for the Yellow Sea.

KCNA also said two civilian deaths from its artillery strike on the South were “if true… very regrettable” but also charged they had been used as “human shields” by being placed near artillery positions.


Source: SGGP

S.Korea holds second day of major anti-submarine drill

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2010 at 7:20 am

SEOUL, Aug 6, 2010 (AFP) – A major South Korean naval exercise designed to strengthen defences went into a second day Friday.

The exercise is one of a series planned in coming months in response to what the South says was a North Korean torpedo attack on a warship.

This photo taken on August 5, 2010 shows South Korean Marines carrying inflatable boats during a military exercise in Baengnyeong Island near the disputed Yellow Sea border between the two Koreas. AFP

The South has mobilised 4,500 troops, backed by 29 ships and 50 aircraft, for its five-day drill in the Yellow Sea.

This week’s manoeuvres do not include US forces. Last week South Korea and the United States staged a massive joint naval and air drill in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) as a show of force.

Service personnel will practise attacks on intruding craft and defences against submarines on Friday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, along with a drill to repel attacks on coastline batteries and commando raids.

Pyongyang has angrily denied responsibility for the March sinking of the corvette near the disputed inter-Korean border in the Yellow Sea. The incident killed 46 sailors and sharply raised tensions.

The North Thursday termed this week’s drill a deliberate provocation and threatened “the most powerful” retaliation if the South triggers a conflict during the exercise.

“Our people and military will mercilessly crush the provokers and their stronghold with the most powerful war tactics and strike means beyond imagination if they ever dare to set a fire,” said a statement from a state body called the Committee for Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.

But as of Friday morning no unusual movements by the North had been detected, a JCS spokesman told AFP.

A multinational investigation concluded in May that a North Korean submarine had torpedoed the warship.

Washington has announced new sanctions on the North to punish it for the alleged attack and to push it to scrap its nuclear weapons programme.

But the Obama administration on Thursday stopped short of putting Pyongyang back on a blacklist of countries supporting terrorism, despite pressure from lawmakers to do so.

Then-US president George W. Bush de-listed North Korea in 2008 after it vowed to end its nuclear programme, agreed to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency and pledged to disable its nuclear plants.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea kicks off military drill despite threats

In Uncategorized on August 5, 2010 at 7:21 am

South Korea on Thursday launched its largest-ever anti-submarine exercise including live-fire training near the disputed sea border with North Korea, despite Pyongyang’s threats of retaliation.

The South has warned the North it will not tolerate provocations during the five-day naval drill in the Yellow Sea, being staged in response to what it says was a deadly North Korean torpedo attack on a warship.

South Korean Marines on patrol on Baengnyeong island near the border with North Korea in March 2010.

“This is the largest anti-submarine exercise in our military history, involving the army, navy, air force and marines,” a Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) spokesman told AFP.

South Korea is mobilising 4,500 troops, backed by top-of-the-line war machines including 29 ships such as submarines and destroyers and 50 aircraft including jet fighters and attack helicopters.

The exercise comes eight days after South Korea and the United States ended a massive joint naval and air drill in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) as a show of force against the North.

Pyongyang has angrily denied responsibility for the March sinking of the corvette the Cheonan, which claimed the lives of 46 sailors and sharply raised tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The JCS said the latest exercise is “defensive” in nature, focused on repelling attacks by sea, including those by the North’s feared commandoes riding hovercrafts.

Marines stationed on islands near the disputed Yellow Sea border with the North would stage live-fire battery exercises but the guns will be trained southwest.

“We don’t fire toward the sea border, even if the North does sometimes in provocative acts,” the JCS spokesman said.

Anti-submarine training involving torpedo and depth charge firing will also take place in the Yellow Sea but far south of the border, he added.

“Except for the batteries on the islands, you won’t hear much of the sound of live fire in the sea near the border,” he said.

This week’s exercise is one of a raft of drills planned by the South separately or jointly with its ally the United States in the aftermath of the sinking of the Cheonan.

A multinational investigation concluded that the warship had been torpedoed by one of the North’s submarines near the border in the Yellow Sea, the scene of several naval clashes in the past.

Pyongyang vehemently denies involvement but Washington slapped it with new sanctions to punish it for the alleged attack and to push it to scrap its nuclear weapons programme.

The North’s military Tuesday blasted this week’s exercise as a “direct military invasion” and warned “reckless naval firing” by the South would be countered “with strong physical retaliation.”

“Raising issue with the legitimate, defensive exercise is a provocation in itself,” said Rear Admiral Kim Kyung-Sik of South Korea’s JCS said Wednesday. “Our armed forces will closely monitor enemy movements during these drills.”

The sinking of the Cheonan deepened an emerging Cold-War style confrontation between China and North Korea on one side and the United States and South Korea on the other.

China last week staged a large naval and air exercise on its southeast coast — just as South Korea and the United States conducted their own naval drill — and on Tuesday launched large-scale air defence manoeuvres.

China is North Korea’s closest ally and trade partner and has refused to join in international condemnation of Pyongyang over the warship sinking.

Beijing had expressed concern about the US-South Korea exercise, which was initially supposed to be held in the Yellow Sea separating China and the Korean peninsula but was relocated to the Sea of Japan after Beijing’s protests.

China has warned against further actions it says could raise tensions in the region.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea warns N.Korea on eve of naval drill

In Uncategorized on August 4, 2010 at 7:20 am

SEOUL, Aug 4, 2010 (AFP) – South Korea warned North Korea Wednesday it would not tolerate provocations during an upcoming naval exercise in the Yellow Sea, after Pyongyang threatened “strong physical retaliation” for the drill.

“Our military will keep a close eye on our enemy, be ready under any circumstances during the training and will not tolerate any type of provocation,” Rear Admiral Kim Kyung-Sik told a briefing.

A spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff told AFP separately that if the North fires at the South, “we will stage an immediate counter-attack”.

The five-day anti-submarine drill starting Thursday is a response to the North’s alleged torpedo attack in March on a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors.

Military officials said 29 ships including a submarine and a destroyer, 50 fixed-wing aircraft and 4,500 army, navy, air force, marine and coastguard personnel would take part.

They said marines stationed on islands near the disputed Yellow Sea border with the North would stage live-fire exercises, but naval ships would stay far south of the line.

Kim said the exercise would be a legitimate defensive drill in the South’s waters. Its aim was “to warn North Korea, and show our military capability to them, that future provocations will not be tolerated”.

In a joint show of strength, the US and South Korean military last week staged one of their largest-ever joint naval and air drills on the other side of the peninsula.

The allies plan more joint drills this year but this week’s exercise will only involve South Korea.

The United States has also announced new sanctions on the North to punish it for the alleged ship attack and push it to scrap its nuclear weapons programme.

The North disputes the maritime borderline in the Yellow Sea, which has been the scene of several naval clashes, saying it should run further to the south. The Cheonan went down near the border and a multinational investigation concluded it had been torpedoed by one of the North’s submarines.

The North’s military Tuesday dubbed the upcoming exercise a “direct military invasion”.

It said “reckless naval firing” by the South would be countered “with strong physical retaliation”.

The North routinely denounces US-South Korean war games as a rehearsal for war, while the allies say they are purely defensive.

Pyongyang threatened nuclear retaliation for last week’s joint drill, which ended without incident.

A South Korean newspaper said Wednesday the North had moved long-range anti-aircraft missiles close to the border with the South as tensions rose over the sunken warship.

Chosun Ilbo quoted a military source as saying the North moved some SA-5 missiles to areas near the border, where they pose a potential threat to South Korean jets.

A separate media report said the United States was expected to blacklist three key North Korean figures suspected of handling secret funds for leader Kim Jong-Il as part of its new sanctions.

Yonhap news agency, quoting a South Korean government source, said one of the three is Kim Tong-Myong, head of the North’s Tanchon Commercial Bank.

“The US is paying special attention to three people, including Kim Tong-Myong, who operate North Korea’s secret funds abroad,” the source was quoted as saying.

“If they are included in the new sanctions, it could deal a blow to North Korea’s leadership.”

The foreign ministry had no comment on the report.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea, US plan anti-submarine drill

In Uncategorized on July 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm

SEOUL, July 26, 2010 (AFP) – South Korea and the United States plan to stage anti-submarine drills Monday on the second day of a major naval exercise aimed at deterring North Korea, an official said.

About 20 ships including a US aircraft carrier, 200 aircraft and 8,000 military personnel launched the four-day drill Sunday as a warning to the North following the sinking of a South Korean warship.

This picture released by the US Navy shows aircraft carrier USS George Washington departing Busan, South Korea on July 25, 2010. AFP

The North, which denies US and South Korean claims that one of its submarines torpedoed the corvette, has threatened nuclear retaliation for the drill which it claims is a pretext for aggression.

“Today’s drill focuses on detecting and destroying enemy submarines in a simulated naval battle,” a spokesman for Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told AFP.

“In the afternoon, fighter jets will conduct live-fire exercises.”

The exercise is being held in international waters in the Sea of Japan, south of North Korean waters.

The North’s powerful National Defence Commission warned Saturday it would “start a retaliatory sacred war” of its own style at “any time necessary” to counter the drills which it said aimed to incite war.

It said the country’s army and people “will legitimately counter with their powerful nuclear deterrence the largest-ever nuclear war exercises to be staged by the US and the South Korean puppet forces”.

Seoul and Washington, citing the findings of a multinational investigation, accuse Pyongyang of attacking the warship near the tense Yellow Sea border in March with the loss of 46 lives.

In addition to the current exercise, the first in a series, the United States last week announced new sanctions to punish the North for the sinking and push it to scrap its nuclear weapons programme.

In response to Beijing’s protests, the current exercise was switched from the Yellow Sea separating China and Korea to the other side of the peninsula.

But officials said future drills would be held in the Yellow Sea.

China called for restraint from all sides.

“All involved parties should commit to providing peace and security on the Korean peninsula,” Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Sunday in Vienna.

Source: SGGP

China conducts emergency bird flu drill

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2008 at 8:32 am

Beijing (VNA) – Health authorities of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao on December 17 conducted a joint exercise to test their cooperation in the event of a cross-boundary incident of avian flu involving human cases.

Code-named “Exercise Great Wall 2008”, the training was jointly organised by the Ministry of Health, the Health Bureau of Zhejiang Province, the Health Bureau of Macao, and the Food and Health Bureau, the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority of Hong Kong, Xinhua news agency reported.

Over 60 public health officials and medical personnel took part in the exercise.

This is the third exercise of this kind and is organised under the Co-operation Agreement on Response Mechanism for Public Health Emergencies signed by the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao in 2005.

Ealier on December 16, China’s Agriculture Ministry said it has detected H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks at two poultry farms in the eastern province of Jiangsu, leading to the massive culling of 377,000 fowl. –