White House denounces 'dangerous' actions by North Korea's military

 

The White House on Monday blasted a North Korean military drill that led to an exchange of fire with South Korea as "dangerous and provocative.”

North Korea's "continuous threats and provocations aggravate tensions and further its isolation," said National Security Council spokesman Jonathan Lalley. "We remain steadfast in our commitment the defense of our allies and remain in close coordination with both [South Korea] and Japan."

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According to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, North Korea began live-fire exercises near the South Korean maritime border shortly after noon, prompting South Korea to return fire. According to reports, North Korea fired several artillery shells into South Korean territorial waters.

"Some [North Korean] artillery fire landed in [the] southern part of Northern Limit Line but in the water," a South Korean Ministry of Defense spokesman said, according to CNN. "We counter-fired over the Northern Limit Line."

"We are not shooting at North Korea, just shooting into the sea."

The exchange is the latest in a series of escalations taken by North Korea in recent days. On Tuesday, the North test fired a pair of mid-range ballistic missiles toward Japan. The missiles launched from the west coast of North Korea and crashed into the Sea of Japan, the State Department said. It was the first launch of its type since 2009.

That move came hours after President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye condemned Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program during trilateral talks earlier in the day.

At the meeting, Obama said  the U.S. commitment to the security of both allies was "unwavering.”

"Our trilateral cooperation has sent a strong signal to Pyongyang that its provocations and threats will be met with a unified response and that the U.S. commitment to the security of both Japan and the Republic of Korea is unwavering, and that a nuclear North Korea is unacceptable," Obama said.

Park told reporters that developments in North Korea were “increasingly uncertain” and demanded the tight coordination of the three countries.

“The North Korean nuclear issue poses a major threat to peace and stability in the region, and it is vital that the international community, including Korea, the U.S. and Japan, fashion a united response,” Park said.