North Korea fires 130 artillery shells as warning to Seoul
North Korea simultaneously fired around 130 artillery shells into a maritime buffer zone as a warning to the joint US-South Korea military drills conducted along its border. Seoul termed it a "clear violation" of the 2018 agreement between the two countries, though it said none of the shells crossed the Northern Limit Line, which is the de facto maritime border that the Koreas share.
Why does this story matter?
- North Korea earlier threatened to use "powerful measures" against South Korea and the United States as they are conducting one of their largest joint military drills—Vigilant Storm—which Pyongyang says is reminiscent of the Gulf War.
- On November 4, Seoul scrambled fighter jets after detecting 180 North Korean warplanes near the northern border. Two days prior, both fired missiles that landed in each other's waters.
Artillery fired after detecting projectiles near border: Pyongyang
Pyongyang fired a barrage of artillery into the sea from two separate sites on the east and west coasts after detecting dozens of projectiles fired by Seoul near their shared border, reported KCNA, Pyongyang's state news agency. South Korea and the US were conducting a joint land-based firing drill on Monday in Cheorwon, which is near the border. The drill will continue on Tuesday.
US-South Korea joint military drills increased this year
This year, Washington and Seoul have scaled up joint military exercises stating that it was necessary to deter Pyongyang. North Korea has criticized the joint military drills terming them as evidence of the allies' hostile policy. Meanwhile, US intelligence reports say North Korea has resumed testing its long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) along with preparing to test its first nuclear weapon since 2017.
Talks in 2018 established buffer zone, but fell out later
After months of meetings, both Koreas reached the Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA) in 2018, which was the most substantive deal in establishing the buffer zone to reduce tensions. However, the talks collapsed in 2019, following which Pyongyang repeatedly fired artillery into the buffer zone. Last month, it tested its newest ICBM despite being barred from doing so by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.