Seoul urges Pyongyang to drop threats over alleged ‘aerial espionage’

Seoul, Jul 11 (EFE).- South Korea’s military has urged Pyongyang to abandon its threats in response to alleged intrusions by US reconnaissance aircraft over North Korea’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in recent days.

“North Korea is intentionally creating tension through threatening words and actions against the [South Korea]-US alliance’s normal flight activities over the high seas, and we strongly urge an immediate end to such actions,” said the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a statement in which it also warned Pyongyang it will be “responsible for all consequences resulting from (its) actions.”

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller on Monday also urged Pyongyang to “refrain from escalatory actions” and “engage in serious and sustained diplomacy.”

The message came after the North Korean Ministry of National Defense and Vice Department Director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Kim Yo-jong — powerful sister of leader Kim Jong-un — on Monday warned the US in response to “aerial espionage” operations that its aircraft have allegedly carried out in recent days over the EEZ off the eastern coast of the country.

Kim Yo-jong said that a US reconnaissance plane flying over the EEZ on Monday “retreated by the responding sortie of the Air Force of the Korean People’s Army,” and then returned to continue carrying out reconnaissance work, reaching some 400 kilometers from the southeastern coast of the country.

The EEZ is defined as the waters that extend up to 200 nautical miles (about 370 kilometers) from the coasts of a country, while the airspace is usually paired with territorial waters, which reach up to 12 nautical miles (about 22 kilometers) from the coast.

On Tuesday, following the message issued by the South Korean military, Kim Yo-jong posted another short response through the state Korean Central News Agency, accusing the South of denying that North Korean sovereignty was violated.

The leader’s sister added that this is a matter between Pyongyang and Washington and urged South Korean “military gangsters” to “stop acting impudently and shut up at once,” while warning that “the US forces will experience a very critical flight” in the case of “repeated illegal intrusion.”

Following the failure of the 2019 denuclearization talks in Hanoi, tensions have once again soared on the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea rejecting any offer of dialogue and conducting a record number of missile tests.

South Korea and the US have also resumed their large-scale joint military drills and periodically deployed US strategic assets. EFE


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