A top U.S. military official linked the armed conflict between the two Koreas to the expected handing down of power in North Korea from Kim Jong-il to his son Kim Jong-un.
"I think worrying is something we ought to stay with," Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the ABC's "The View" on Wednesday.
"It's a worrisome leadership in North Korea. He [Kim Jong-il] is a very unpredictable guy, a very dangerous guy. This is also tied, we think, to the succession of this young 27-year-old who's going to take over at some point, and he continues to generate these kinds of events," Mullen said.
North Korea opened artillery fire on the South's Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea Tuesday, killing at least two South Korean marines and two civilians. Sixteen others were injured, along with three civilians. The South retaliated and warned of further strikes. The North later accused South Korea of attacking first.
South Korean media said Kim Jong-un and his father visited the military base from where the South Korean island was shelled shortly before the attack.
Mullen called for international pressure on North Korea, including on the part of China.
"The one country that has influence in Pyongyang is China and so their leadership is absolutely critical," he said.
The attack is the second incident in the tense Yellow Sea border area this year. In March, a North Korean submarine was alleged to have torpedoed a South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan, causing the loss of 46 lives.
WASHINGTON, November 25 (RIA Novosti)