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N.K. weekend artillery firing did not breach inter-Korean accord: defense minister

Defense 13:25 March 22, 2022

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- Defense Minister Suh Wook on Tuesday rejected President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's claim that North Korea's weekend artillery firing violated a 2018 inter-Korean military tension reduction accord.

During a parliamentary session, Suh said the North fired shots Sunday from a site "far north" of a buffer zone in the Yellow Sea that the two Koreas agreed to set up under their Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA).

Earlier in the day, Yoon called the firing a "clear" violation of the CMA that stipulates the buffer zone spanning around 135 kilometers in the Yellow Sea and around 80 km in the East Sea. It bans artillery firing and naval drills in the zone.

"No, it's far north," Suh said in response to a lawmaker's question of whether the firing took place within the buffer zone demarcated by the CMA. "It was not an area covered by the agreement."

Military sources have said the North fired four shots, using multiple rocket launchers, from around Sukchon, north of Pyongyang.

In November 2019, South Korea's military defined the North's coastal artillery firing from Changrin Islet near the Northern Limit Line, a de facto inter-Korean sea border in the Yellow Sea, as a CMA violation.

Following the third summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang on Sept. 19, 2018, the two Koreas signed the CMA to reduce military tensions, prevent accidental clashes and build mutual trust.

South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook speaks during a parliamentary session in Seoul on March 22, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr
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