fired several artillery shells early Thursday that
are believed to have landed in its waters, an official at 's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The
official, speaking on condition of anonymity citing department policy, said did
not respond but was closely watching the North's maneuvers.
The poorly marked sea border — drawn by the
American-led UN Command at the end of the Korean War — is a constant source of
tension between the two .
Their navies fought a skirmish in November that left one North Korean sailor
dead and three others wounded, and engaged in bloodier battles in the area in
1999 and 2002.
It was the first exchange of fire between the
since November's skirmish, and could be aimed at raising tensions to emphasize
that the peninsula remains a war zone and push for a treaty formally ending the
1950-53 Korean War.
have insisted that
return to nuclear disarmament talks before any treaty can be concluded.
The North previously had announced two
no-sail zones in the area, including some South Korean-held waters, through
On Wednesday morning, fired about 30 artillery rounds into
the sea from its western coast and
quickly responded with 100 warning shots from a nearby marine base, 's Defense Ministry
and Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The North fired more shells later Wednesday
and issued a statement saying it was part of an annual drill and that it would
continue. No casualties or damage were reported.
In Washington, State Department spokesman
P.J. Crowley criticized the North on Wednesday for raising tension, saying the
no-sail zone designation and the firing were "provocative actions and, as
such, are not helpful."
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell also
urged the North to rejoin the six-nation nuclear talks to achieve security and
"Provocative actions such as those that
we saw yesterday are clearly not part of that path," he said.
argues that it was compelled to develop nuclear
weapons to cope with a military threat from the
The US and North Korea have never had diplomatic
relations because the Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving
the peninsula technically at war. ,
the United Nations Command and
signed the cease-fire, but never did.
is said to believe a peace treaty with the would provide security and status, help
ensure the survival of its government and give it a stronger hand against rival
A treaty could also raise the question of whether the needs to
maintain about 28,500 troops in the South — a legacy of the war.
"It's again confirmed that the North
Korean regime is a warlike group that easily disrupts peace with an armed
provocation though it often talks about a peace treaty," South Korea's
mass-circulation Dong-a Ilbo newspaper said in an editorial Thursday. It said
should bolster its defenses against North Korean aggression.
President Barack Obama, in his State of the
Union address Wednesday night, mentioned as an example of US
diplomatic efforts to clamp down on states pursuing nuclear weapons.
"That is why now faces increased
isolation and stronger sanctions — sanctions that are being vigorously
enforced," he said.
Separately, announced Thursday it is holding an American who
crossed into its territory from ,
the second detention of a
citizen it has reported in the past several weeks.
The man was detained Monday and is under
investigation, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said. It did not
identify him by name or provide further details.
said late last month that it was holding another citizen for
illegally entering the country. The man is widely believed to be Robert Park,
an American missionary who reportedly crossed over a frozen river into to
raise the issue of human rights.
fired more artillery near its disputed western sea
on Thursday, a day after it lobbed dozens of shells during military exercises
that prompted the South to respond with warning shots.