YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea – South Korea’s military waited for better weather to hold live-fire drills that the North warned would cause it to retaliate, but the high tensions prompted the U.N. Security Council to schedule an emergency meeting at Russia’s request.
The one-day firing drills are planned by Tuesday on the same front-line island the North shelled last month. The shelling killed four people on Yeonpyeong Island near the tense sea border.
The North’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday that South Korea would face an unspecified “catastrophe” if the drills take place, in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. The North also said it would strike harder than before.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry urged South Korea to cancel the drills to avoid escalating tensions.
The Security Council scheduled emergency closed-door consultations on North Korea for today at Russia’s request, said Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. The United States holds the council’s rotating presidency this month.
A flurry of regional diplomacy was under way to defuse the tensions, with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson visiting the North.
A frequent unofficial envoy to the reclusive country, Richardson said he wanted to visit the North’s main nuclear complex and meet with senior officials during his four-day trip.
Activists launched balloons containing about 200,000 propaganda leaflets toward the North from the island, which is about seven miles from North Korean shores. The balloons also carried 1,000 $1 bills and DVDs containing information on the North’s artillery barrage last month.