Seoul and Pyongyang have started another stage of the verbal war following the start of military drills in the Yellow Sea. The drills are being held to intensify South Korea's response to asymmetrical provocations on the part of the potential enemy. S. Korean officials repeatedly stated that the nation would not tolerate any provocations from the North.
Pyongyang labeled the military exercise in the Yellow Sea as direct military aggression to infringe upon North Korea's right for self-defense.
"Should the U.S. imperialists and (South Korea) finally ignite a new war of aggression ... (North Korea) will mobilize the tremendous military potential including its nuclear deterrence for self-defense and thus wipe out the aggressors," North Korea's defense chief, Kim Yong Chun, said in Pyongyang.
South Korea decided to continue demonstrating its military power, though. About 4,500 military men, 20 warships and 50 fighter jets are taking part in the drills, which started Thursday. The maneuvers will last through August 9.
Pyongyang vehemently rejects its implication in the sinking of South Korea's Cheonan vessel on March 26, when 46 sailors were killed. The ship, which was patrolling the area near the border with North Korea, split into two before sinking. South Korea and the USA claim that a North Korean submarine torpedoed the ship.
International independent experts also cast doubts on Pyongyang's implication in the tragic accident. A group of Russian experts, who visited South Korea, have not yet been able to come to certain conclusions about the sinking of the Cheonan.
It is worthy of note that the most recent drills in the Yellow Sea conducted by the South Korean Navy take place shortly after large-scale US-South Korean "Invincible Spirit" maritime exercise, which took place on July 25-28 off the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula in the Sea of Japan.
USA's Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the joint exercise had been arranged to show North Korea that its aggressive behavior should stop.
Such an active demonstration of force made North Korea nervous. Officials of the isolated nation claimed that they would be ready to use nuclear weapons in the "holy war."
North Korea has already deployed long-range missiles near the border with South Korea. North Korea bought 350 Sa-5 missiles and 20 launching systems from the USSR at the end of the 1980s. The systems were installed on the outskirts of Pyongyang and several other cities of the country.
The Soviet missiles can become a serious obstacle for South Korean Air Force in case the nation launches pinpoint attacks on strategic targets in the north of the peninsula. South Korean warplanes will have to fly at altitudes not lower than 3,000 meters if the missiles are activated.
The Sa-5 missiles have been recently redeployed to the demilitarized zone. The move, military experts believe, will create a serious threat for South Korean fighter jets that patrol border territories.
South Korean experts believe that Pyongyang will never dare to embark on a suicidal adventure. The two neighbors continue the dangerous game of playing with fire.