S.Korea to hold 'largest ever live-fire drill'

South Korea announced land and sea military exercises on Wednesday including its largest-ever live-fire drill near North Korea.

S.Korea to hold 'largest ever live-fire drill'

South Korea announced land and sea military exercises on Wednesday including its largest-ever live-fire drill near North Korea just as tension on the peninsula was beginning to ease.

The land drill, involving artillery, fighter jets and the largest number of personnel in a peace-time exercise, will take place on Thursday, after the South's live-fire artillery exercise on Monday on the island of Yeonpyeong, and is bound to anger the North.

"We'll be sure to deal a punishing blow if the North tries to repeat the kind of situation like the artillery shelling of Yeonpyeong," Brigadier General Ju Eun-shik said in a statement.

It will take place on the South Korean mainland.

There was no immediate reaction from Pyongyang, with the local KCNA agency running stories about leader Kim Jong-il's visit to a power station. South Korea is also holding three days of live-firing naval drills off the peninsula's east coast starting on Wednesday, a media official at the Defence Ministry said.

He would not provide details. Yonhap news agency said the drills were taking place 100 km (60 miles) south of the maritime border with North Korea and involved at least six naval boats.

North Korea this week offered to re-admit U.N. inspectors over its nuclear programme.

An army officer said similar drills had been staged previously on more than 50 occasions, but the scale this time was unprecedented.

"The scale of mechanised assets taking place is enormous. When we would normally have 6 K-9 mechanised artillery, we'll have 36. We'll have the F-15 jets firing. We'll have choppers. You can say most of the mechanised assets taking part will be firing live ammunition."

It will take place in Pocheon region, less than 50 km (30 miles) north of downtown Seoul.

China, North Korea's only major ally, has urged dialogue to resolve the crisis and urged Pyongyang to follow through on its offer to allow U.N. inspectors into the country.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment on the planned drill.


Agencies

Last Mod: 22 Aralık 2010, 17:46
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