Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman - Emil Salman
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Photo by Emil Salman
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Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday slammed the world's response to North Korea's atatck on its southern neighbor, saying the intenational community was showing weakness in the face of aggression.

Lieberman told journalists in Jerusalem that a failure to confront the regime of dictator Kim Jong-il left the world little able to confront other agreesors, including Iran - which Israel and the West accuse of developing a nuclear bomb.

"How the world will be able to stop Iran if it can't stop North Korea," Lieberman said.

Earlier Tuesday, North Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells at a South Korean island in one of the heaviest bombardments on the South since the Korean War ended in 1953. South Korea responded by firing 80 rounds of shells back at the North.

South Korea's military said two soldiers were killed in the attack, and another 17 troops and at least three civilians wounded.

Like Iran, North Korea has defied intenatiohnal pressure to pursue a nuclear program. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons Tuesday attack came amid high tension over North Korea's claim that it has a new uranium enrichment facility and just six weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong-il unveiled his youngest son Kim Jong-un as his designated heir.

The United States also criticized North Korea's actions, reiterating its commitment to maintaining peace in the region.

In a statement, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called on North Korea to halt all belligerent action and fully abide by the terms of the armistice agreement, the 1953 pact that ended the Korean War.

Gibbs said the White House was in close and continuing contact with the South Korean government.

"The United States is firmly committed to the defense of our ally, the Republic of Korea, and to the maintenance of regional peace and stability," he said.