November 30, 2010 09:19
The military will stage a fire drill on Yeonpyeong Island amid continued North Korean threats against South Korea since an artillery attack on the island last week.
The military is determined to pulverize North Korean artillery positions if they fire shells again. On Monday it deployed six U.S.-made Multiple Launch Rocket Systems for the first time on the island, as well as six more K-9 self-propelled howitzers. Each MLRS shell is capable of destroying an area the size of one to three soccer fields.
A government source on Monday said, "There has been strong criticism that we responded too passively to the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island, so we decided to stage the same kind of fire drill as the one we carried out on the island on Nov. 23 to display our determination." He added the timing of the drill will not be announced in advance.
The military will fire in a southwesterly direction, using K-9 self-propelled howitzers. The Joint Chiefs of Staff considered staging the drill on Tuesday but delayed it at the request of the U.S. military.
Early last week, the North shelled the island, claiming that the South had fired shells at its territorial waters, and has since continued to threaten a "physical retaliatory counterattack" if South Korean military exercises continue.
Each MLRS carries 12 rocket shells with a diameter of 227 mm. Each shell is filled with about 500 cluster munitions, each of which has the detonating power of a single hand grenade. They are more powerful than the North Korean multiple rocket launchers.
With a range of 32 to 45 km, the South's MLRS can hit inland areas in the North as well as artillery deployed on the western coast. They were first used during the Gulf War in 1991.
Military authorities are determined to launch surgical strikes by mobilizing fighter planes depending on the magnitude of future North Korean provocations.
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