North Korea said it will scrap the 1953 armistice, cut a cross-border hotline to South Korea and display its nuclear status, bringing tensions on the peninsula to the highest level in three years.
The actions yesterday, along with rhetoric that followed a United Nations Security Council vote to impose more sanctions on North Korea, came as more than 10,000 U.S. troops joined South Korea’s military in annual maneuvers. North Korea will “reinforce as a nuclear weapons state” in response to the vote, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency today.
“North Korea has never given the kind of threat we saw this week at such frequency and language,” Cheong Seong Chang, a senior research fellow at South Korea’s Sejong Institute said in a telephone interview. “North Korea has never made a threat of a nuclear attack, nullified the armistice, cut off communications channels and shut the truce village at the same time.”
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, inspected front-line troops and said his military is ready for “all-out war,” KCNA reported yesterday. The government closed a liaison channel with the U.S. and South Korea at the world’s most heavily fortified border after the UN imposed sanctions March 7 in response to a North Korean nuclear test last month and continued efforts to develop missiles.
South Korea warned that any nuclear strike would mean the end of North Korea’s regime.
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