Warnings North Korea will launch fresh attack
Published 02/12/2010 | 05:00
North Korea is "highly likely" to attack South Korea again, in order to bolster the handover of power from Kim Jong-il to his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, South Korea's intelligence chief has warned.
"There is a high possibility that the North will make another attack," Won Sei-hoon, director of South Korea's National Intelligence Service, told a parliamentary committee meeting in Seoul, South Korea.
"Internal complaints are growing about the North's succession for a third generation, and its economic situation is worsening," he added.
The warning came a week after North Korea shelled the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, killing four people and wounding a further 13, placing the South Korean government under public pressure to take a tough line against the North.
Mr Won revealed that phone-tap intelligence had hinted at the likelihood of the attack months beforehand.
The attack came against a backdrop of economic and political instability in the North, which is reeling under UN sanctions imposed last year after its second illegal nuclear weapons test.
Kim Jong-un was made a four-star general and named as vice-chairman of the country's National Defence Commission in September, in a move that was seen as paving the way for him to take over from his father.
Tensions on the peninsula have rarely been higher, with the United States finishing a set of war games in the Yellow Sea yesterday, involving its aircraft carrier the USS George Washington
The US exercises, which were opposed by China as an unnecessary provocation, passed off without incident.
As the USS George Washington left the Yellow Sea, South Korea announced live-fire naval exercises from 29 sites next week.
There were also reports that it was deploying short-range surface-to-air missiles in Yeonpyeong.
The US, Japan and South Korea will meet for talks on the crisis in Washington next week, while China has invited two senior North Korean envoys to Beijing for talks this week. (© Daily Telegraph, London)