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South Korean spy chief warns of more attacks by North

By the CNN Wire Staff
U.S. Navy crewman on the deck of the USS George Washington during a joint military exercise with South Korea, Nov. 30, 2010.
U.S. Navy crewman on the deck of the USS George Washington during a joint military exercise with South Korea, Nov. 30, 2010.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Intelligence chief warns of more attacks
  • Report: S. Korea is in talks with the U.S. for more drills to deal with "provocation by the enemy"
  • Government ministers from South Korea and Japan will attend a December meeting
  • North Korea warns U.S.-South Korea drills could lead to "all-out war any time"

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- South Korea's spy chief said Wednesday that there is a high chance that North Korea will attack again following a strike last month that has led to renewed tensions on the peninsula, the Yonhap news agency reported.

South Korean lawmaker Rhee Beum-Kwan quoted National Intelligence Service chief Won Sei-hoon as making the prediction, Yonhap reported.

"North Korea pushed for reckless actions as internal complaints grew over its hereditary power succession and economic situations worsened," the lawmaker quoted Won as saying.

Meanwhile, South Korea and the United States wrapped up joint military exercises on the Yellow Sea, while South Korea carried on with plans for artillery firing drills next week amid simmering tensions with Pyongyang.

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The live fire drills are a routine monthly exercise aimed at securing the safety of ships in the area, the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff told CNN. They are scheduled to begin Monday.

Officials said the planned firing drills are expected to take place in waters around the Korean peninsula, including those close to the Yellow Sea border, Yonhap reported.

But the Yellow Sea locations are not close to Yeonpyeong Island, where four South Koreans were killed by North Korean shelling on November 23, Yonhap reported officials as saying.

North Korea has said the South provoked the attack, which also left 18 people injured, because shells from a South Korean military drill landed in the North's waters.

Meanwhile, South Korea and the United States are reportedly in talks about more joint naval exercises for this year or next year.

"We have been in consultations with the U.S. to carry out several rounds of joint military drills to deal with a limited provocation by the enemy," said Col. Kim Young-cheol of the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff, Yonhap reported. "The timing and participating military assets have not been decided yet."

North Korea warned Tuesday that the military drills by the United States and South Korea could lead to "all-out war any time." The firmly worded message was published by North Korea's state-run KCNA news service.

"If the U.S. and the South Korean war-like forces fire even a shell into the inviolable land and territorial waters of the DPRK, they will have to pay dearly for this," the news service report said. The DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's formal name: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The U.S. State Department announced Wednesday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with ministers from South Korea and Japan next Monday to discuss the Korean crisis, among other issues.

That encounter comes amid calls from China for an emergency meeting of the six major powers involved in talks about the Korean peninsula. The six countries are China, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

South Korea has said it doesn't think the time is right for a resumption of the six-party talks, but promised it would "bear in mind" the Chinese proposal.

In Washington, a State Department official said the United States is consulting with its allies but that resuming the six-party talks "cannot substitute for action by North Korea to comply with its obligations."

The Japanese government said one of its envoys is in Beijing, China, for discussions on the situation.

As North Korea's largest trading partner and strongest ally, China has been urged by the international community to confront the crisis.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that China has "a duty and an obligation to press upon the North Koreans that their belligerent behavior has to come to an end."

A top Chinese envoy met with South Korea's president over the weekend, and a top North Korean official arrived in Beijing, China, on Tuesday, the first visit to China by a North Korean official since the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.

CNN affiliate YTN reported that Choe Tae Bok, chairman of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly, is on a five-day visit to China.

Amid the international attempts to avert warfare, the strident and saber-rattling rhetoric between the Koreas remained the region's background noise.

This comes after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak warned this week that North Korea would face severe consequences if it launched another military attack across its southern border.

"If the North commits any additional provocations against the South, we will make sure that it pays a dear price without fail," Lee said in a nationally televised address.

CNN's Tim Schwarz contributed to this report.

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