Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Korean Shipping Exclusion Row Escalates To Artillery Fire

Update on Korean ‘No-Go’ Zone
Shipping News Feature

KOREA’S – Following on from yesterday’s report of North Korea’s creation of a shipping exclusion zone off the Korean peninsula’s western coast, the military of the North (Korean Peoples Army / KPA) has conducted a series of artillery firings into the seas just north of the disputed maritime border, the Northern Limit Line (NLL). This in turn earned a response from the South Korean military.

The KPA is reported to have fired an estimated 30 shells between 9 and 10 AM local time which landed just inside the northern NLL waters. These was responded to by South Korean forces on one of the offshore islands, who fired around one hundred shots reported at the incoming shells with a Vulcan anti aircraft cannon.

Whilst the current situation seems very much tit-for-tat sabre rattling the threat to shipping should not be ignored, with local services already reported to have been disturbed.

The North yesterday stated that they were planning firing exercises that encompassed areas of sea south of the NLL, which they do not acknowledge as the maritime border. However, these firings have caused a stern response from their southern counterparts, who are reported by the Yonhap news agency to have stated that should any ordnance fall south of the NLL they will not fire warning shots but ‘counter attack’.

In a statement the Ministry said: “The military will strongly react to any provocative acts by the North and all the responsibility for consequences will rest with the Northern side.”

With continuing tensions between the two nations seeming to be gradually increasing it seems prudent for any vessels in the area to avoid the NLL zone and take alternative routes if possible.

(pic: South Korean Vulcan cannon)