Tensions on the Korean peninsular are at their highest since the war in 1953, with the South warning the North of what it called “enormous retaliation” if it attacks again.
Seoul has put its military on high alert with its navy patrolling near the disputed sea border where yesterday the North bombarded the South’s Yeonpyeong island.
President Barack Obama, his country being a close ally of South Korea, says North Korea is an ongoing threat which needs to be dealt with. But he has refused to speculate on the possibility of US military action.
Instead he is to hold urgent talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
Lee has already indicated that his patience with the North is running out.
Pyongyang’s shelling of the militarised island came as a surprise. For one hour both sides exchanged artillery fire.
Locals on the island were rapidly evacuated.
It is not the first time there have been such skirmishes between the two sides but this latest comes as the North recently revealed it had a new uranium enrichment facility, confirming its nuclear ambitions.
Despite the deaths of two marines in yesterday’s attack the US is urging restraint.