May 26, 2013
North Korea says won't react to South drill
North Korea said it would not react to military drills staged by the South near their disputed border and, easing tension further, CNN reported that Pyongyang had agreed to the return of nuclear inspectors.
The mercurial North had threatened to strike back if its neighbor went ahead with the live-fire exercise, but hours after the artillery barrage ended said it was "not worth" a military response.
"We felt it was not worth reacting one-by-one to military provocations," the official KCNA news agency quoted the North's Korean People's Army Supreme Command as saying.
A diplomatic breakthrough looked possible after a report that North Korea told US troubleshooter Bill Richardson it would accept the resumption of international inspections of its nuclear programme.
Today's drill lasted just over 90 minutes, with near-constant artillery fire that shook air-raid bunkers on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.
"I can't exactly tell how many have been fired, some are distant and some are noisy. The bunker is shaking and people here are worried, including myself," said a Reuters witness on the island.
On November 23, the last time Seoul conducted firing drills from Yeonpyeong close to the disputed maritime border off the west coast of the Korean peninsula, Pyongyang retaliated by shelling the island, killing four people, in the worst attack on South Korean territory since the Korean war ended in 1953.
The marines' exercise came hours after a UN Security Council meeting on the Korean peninsula crisis ended in deadlock, with Russia and China resisting an explicit condemnation of the North for last month's attack.