Posted May. 09, 2015 07:13,
North Korea on Friday claimed that South Korean Navy vessels intruded into its territorial waters across the Northern Limit Line (NLL), threatening to strike any ship violating the de facto sea border.
South Korea`s Ministry of National Defense issued a statement protesting the threat, vowing to "sternly and strongly respond" to any provocation ignoring Seoul`s warnings.
In what it called "an emergency special warning," the North Korean military`s Command in Southwestern Sector of Front warned, "From this moment, we will make a sighting strike without any prior warning at any warship of the South Korean Navy intruding into the extension of demarcation line in the hotspot (of the sea)."
The North also threatened to successively deal stronger blows to South Korean ships if they challenge the strike. The North Korean military also said that the warnings were made "under a mandate," indicating that they were in compliance with the North`s leader Kim Jong Un.
The North claimed that 17 South Korean naval speedboats violated North Korean waters in the Yellow Sea two or three times a day between May 1 and 7 to crack down on fishing boats from a third country, apparently referring to foreign fishing boats engaged in illegal fishing activities during the blue crab catching season. The North also said that the violations were in sync with South Korean civic groups` flying anti-Pyongyang leaflets toward the North.
However, the North did not specify exactly where the South Korean naval vessels violated the NLL.
"If you act provocatively while ignoring our warnings, we will sternly and strongly respond to them to the degree where you will bitterly repent," Kim said, calling for Pyongyang`s full respect for the maritime border.
In a statement, Seoul`s defense ministry expressed "grave regret" over the North`s threats, blaming Pyongyang for the tensions along the NLL. "The threatening remarks distorting the facts are creating unnecessary military tensions between the North and the South," the ministry said.
North Korea has often escalated tensions along the NLL in attempts to create a favorable environment in its relations with the South. In October 2014, a North Korean patrol boat violated the NLL to trigger an inter-Korean naval skirmish just three days after the top-three influential North Korean officials, including Hwang Byong So, director of the North Korean military`s general political bureau, visited Incheon in the South and offer to improve bilateral ties.