South Korea said it rejected the North's announcement of an end to peace on the principal that the insular nation isn't allowed to "unilaterally" void the 1953 cease-fire agreement based on the terms of the treaty. (Photo : Reuters)
The deluge of threats from North Korea continues: Pyongyang announced it had cut a hotline with South Korea Wednesday and cautioned the United Nations that it was only a matter of time before violence erupted, saying the tensions had developed into a "simmering nuclear war."
"Upon authorization of the Foreign Ministry, the DPRK [North Korea] openly informs the U.N. Security Council that the Korean Peninsula now has the conditions for a simmering nuclear war," said the North Korean government in a statement, according to NPR. "This is because of [provocative] moves by the U.S. and South Korean puppets."
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After severing another hotline earlier in the month, North Korea cut yet another link between itself and the South, ceasing operations at Kaesong, and industrial complex ran by the countries together. The complex was the last symbolic remnant of cooperation between the two Koreas.
Despite the constant, almost daily outpouring of rhetoric from North Korea, experts say it's likely the majority of Pyongyang's threats are attempts to feel out, or intimidate South Korea's recently elected - and thus untested - president, and for Kim Jong Un - also a fairly new leader - to prove his mettle to an inert national audience.
"North Korea has a penchant for testing new South Korean presidents. A new one was just inaugurated in February, and since 1992, the North has welcomed these five new leaders by disturbing the peace. Whether in the form of missile launches, submarine incursions or naval clashes, these North Korean provocations were met by each newly elected South Korean president with patience rather than pique," wrote David Kang, a professor of international relations and business at the University of Southern California, and Victor Cha of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, for Foreign Policy.
This is the second time this month that North Korea has cut a hotline between itself and the South. North Korea declared "merciless" retaliation on the South and U.S. March 11, this time for the pair's joint military maneuvers, and announced it was formally ending the 1953 armistice that stopped the Korean War, and "voiding" peace treaties with Seoul. North Korea also cut off its military and Red Cross hotlines with South Korea, officially severing the hotline it shares with South Korea Monday, Seoul confirmed. South Korea rejected Pyongyang's declaration, saying the North could not unilaterally dissolve the treaty.
Faced with the endless flood of hostile behavior from Pyongyang, the U.S. and South Korea signed a new military contingency pact Friday in preparation for future North Korean "provocations."
The new joint plan addresses the possibility of a "limited attack" from North Korea, such as Pyongyang's sinking of the Choenan that left 46 sailors dead, and its shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in December 2010, Department of Defense officials said, according to the BBC. While a pact has long existed providing for U.S. support in the event of a nuclear attack on South Korea, the newly signed contingency plan will provide "immediate and decisive response" to such antagonism, said Lt. Col. Cathy Wilkinson, a Pentagon spokeswoman, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Only yesterday, North Korea announced its strategic rocket and artillery units were set in combat position and aimed at military bases in the U.S. in preparation for battle.
This is far from the first time North Korea has declared its military was "combat ready" to stoke international tensions. When North Korea revealed it was removing the country from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1993, Pyonyang also said the nation was on "pre-war" status.
Pyongyang has made a point in recent months of displaying its military brawn through open threats aimed at the U.S. and South, provocative military exercises aimed at South Korean targets, and more. North Korea has continuously ratcheted up its aggressive rhetoric ever since its third nuclear test launch in February.