08/05/2010, 00.00
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Seoul begins biggest-ever anti-submarine exercises, Pyongyang threatens reprisals

More than 4,500 troops will be involved near the maritime border with the North. Pyongyang calls the drill a “direct military invasion” and will respond. Seoul warns, “We will not tolerate any kind of provocations”.
Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – South Korea began its biggest-ever anti-submarine exercises close to the maritime border with North Korea, despite the latter’s threat of reprisal, South Korean Defence Ministry said.

The area includes the location where, last March, ROKS Cheonan was sunk with the death of 46 sailors. Seoul blamed Pyongyang for the loss of the ship, sunk by a torpedo.

Although an international team of investigators found North Korea responsible for the demise of Pohang-class corvette, the United Nations Security Council did not directly blame Pyongyang for the incident but simply expressed regrets for the loss of life.

Seoul responded by holding a joint naval drill with the United States last week. "We will not tolerate any kind of provocations by the enemy, and the drills will allow us to be fully prepared for combat,” South Korea said this week.

North Korea's official media reported a statement by its military leaders calling the exercises a "direct military invasion aimed at infringing upon the DPRK's [North Korea's] right to self-defence".

In fact, Seoul’s latest drill is meant as a warning to the North. It involves about 4,500 South Korean troops, more than 20 ships and submarines, and about 50 aircraft.

The exercises will be conducted near Baengnyeong Island, close to Northern Limit Line, i.e. north-south maritime border.

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