With South Korean General Kim Tae-Young accusing the North Koreans of working on a new nuclear warhead, the reported North Korean missile test firings earlier in the week, and the announcement that the North is barring IAEA inspectors from all portions of its Yongbyon nuclear facility it is unsurprising that tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at one of their highest levels in recent memory, but the situation seems to be taking a turn for the worse as the US and North Korea have both issued public warnings today.
North Korea’s naval command has accused South Korean ships of violating its territorial waters in the Yellow Sea recently, and has warned that a “naval clash may break out due to such military provocations.” They also warned that they may take “decisive action” if the incursions continue. The Yellow Sea border between the two nations was set unilaterally by the United Nations forces after the Korean War, and North Korea claims a different border further south. The Yellow Sea was also the site of this week’s test firings of short range missiles.
Meanwhile, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack has warned the North Koreans that “missile related activities are prohibited under UN Security Council Resolution 1718,” and cautioned them “to avoid any steps that increase tension on the peninsula.”
US commander General Walter Sharp has said his forces “are prepared for any reaction up North, anything up North,” but that “we have not seen anything out of the normal.” The United States presently has 28,500 troops in South Korea.