South Korea’s military fired warning shots at North Korea’s drones suspected of carrying biological and chemical weapons that can strike Seoul within 1 hour…
Yonhap News Agency has reported on South Korean troops firing warning shots across its border with North Korea. The shots were said to be fired specifically at a flying object still unidentified, across the fortified Military Demarcation Line (MDL).
The object, thought to be a drone, was reported to be “traversing southward” at around 4pm, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had announced. The object was detected over Gangwon province, only 45 miles from Seoul. The South Korean military fired warning shots, and Yonhap reported the dispatching of a warning broadcast.
Machine gun rounds also opened fired, adding to the already heightened tensions between the North and South. Yonhap has noted this report to its local readers as “Urgent.”
The MDL, better known in the west as the Armistice Line is the demarcation line between North and South Korea. On either side of the line is the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Any military action occurring across the line, that was established in 1953, can be considered hostile and a breach of the armistice.
The South side is guarded by patrols of South Korean and United Nations troops, while the North respectively guards their side with the DPRK military.
Observers say the latest action is Pyongyang gearing up for war. After South Korea fired warning shots at the object the North responded likewise, with over 90 shots returned. The drone is reported to have then returned to the North, and it still isn’t clear if it was armed.
“Judging from the results of an analysis, (we) believe there is a low possibility that the objects were drones,” the ministry’s spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said.
However, there is also conflicting news coming out that the drone was said to be a group of balloons distributing propaganda leaflets.
This isn’t the first time a suspected drone has crossed the DMZ however, with the South opening fire early last year in similar circumstances.
But what makes this act appear more hostile is North Korea’s touting of successive missile tests in the last week. On Sunday, another missile test was conducted, with North Korea claiming triumph the following day.
Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State has come out calling the ongoing North Korean tests “disappointing” and “disturbing.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said of the recent provocations, “the current situation on the peninsula is sensitive, and we once again urge all related parties to remain calm, exercise self-restraint and avoid taking provocative actions that would escalate the tensions.”
North Korea is believed to have in their possession at least 1,000 drones.
During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Defence Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant-General Vincent noted that North Korea, “if left on its current trajectory the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland.
“While nearly impossible to predict when this capability will be operational, the North Korean regime is committed and is on a pathway where this capability is inevitable.”
The latest tensions with the unidentified object crossing the Armistice Line demonstrates the fragility of peace on the Korean Peninsula.