While the United Nations' Security Council wrangled over growing tensions in the Korean peninsula, South Korea ordered thousands to find shelter in preparation for the South's planned live-fire military exercises, which could take place within hours, the military announced.
North Korea said over the weekend that the planned exercises were designed to violate the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953 and "ignite war at any cost."
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin -- who called for the emergency session over the weekend to defuse the crisis -- warned darkly that the world could be faced with a "serious conflict" within hours, and that the international community has "no game plan on the diplomatic side."
"Within hours there may be a serious aggravation of tension -- a serious conflict, for that matter," he said.
The US responded with appropriate outrage last month when North Korea shelled a South Korean island, killing four. The morally depraved United Nations, however, is gripped by indecision and equivocation. Despite hours of emergency meetings over the weekend, the Security Council was unable to muster even a condemnation of Pyongyang's unprovoked deadly attack:
At the United Nations, nearly eight hours of emergency Security Council talks on the standoff ended Sunday without a unified statement.
Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United States said Sunday that council members still cannot bridge any difference over North Korea's November 23rd attack on Yeonpyeong island. Four South Koreans were killed in the attack. The United States has publicly condemned the attacks by the Communist north and insists on South Korea's right to conduct its scheduled military drill.
"The planned exercises are fully consistent with South Korea's legal right to self-defense," Rice said.
...Moscow continues to call for restraint on both sides, but [Churkin] said the Security Council had been "not entirely successful" in reaching consensus among its 15 members. He disclosed few details of the session, but said members disagreed over whether to include a condemnation of the North Korean shelling, which left four dead.
The South Korean government has apparently ignored calls from China and Russia to postpone the drills, which were scheduled to begin as most Americans slept Sunday night. How Kim Jong Il's regime will respond, given its characteristically bellicose warnings, remains unclear. They have promised a devastating military response and have even dropped the N-word. Gulp.
UPDATE: North Korea is scaling back its threats, now claiming that it won't "retaliate" against the South's drills. That's the good news. The bad news: The North is still run by an erratic, impulsive lunatic, so their stance could change at any moment.