N. Korea: No longer bound by 1953 truce

An image from North Korean television on April 9 shows leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang.
North Korea threatened military action Wednesday after South Korea joined a U.S.-led effort to limit the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction, the official Korean Central News Agency said.

South Korea said Monday that it was joining the 6-year-old Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) because of “the grave threat WMD and missile proliferation is posing to global peace,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young. The effort is aimed at halting shipments of weapons technology, a rare source of hard currency for North Korea, but Moon said the south would continue to uphold a shipping agreement with the North. “Our revolutionary armed forces … will regard” South Korea’s participation “in the PSI as a declaration of war …” the North’s official news agency said. Pyongyang also announced it was no longer bound by the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War. Watch the DMZ which splits North and South ┬╗ “The Korean Peninsula is bound to immediately return to a state of war from a legal point of view, and so our revolutionary armed forces will go over to corresponding military actions,” North Korea said through its news agency. Since its April rocket launch, Pyongyang has considered almost any opposition a “declaration of war,” including U.N. Security Council sanctions and participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative.

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Within two weeks, the Security Council adopted a declaration condemning North Korea for launching the rocket on April 5. The North Korean Foreign Ministry said the condemnation infringed on the nation’s sovereignty. “Now that the group officially declared confrontation and war against (North Korea), its revolutionary armed forces will opt for increasing the nation’s defense capability, including nuclear deterrent in every way, without being bound to the agreement adopted at the six-party talks,” it continued, apparently referring to the Security Council. Following Monday’s nuclear test by North Korea, the Security Council condemned the move as a “clear violation” of international law, with even Pyongyang’s closest ally criticizing the exercise. China said North Korea “disregarded the opposition of the international community.” In addition to its nuclear test, the North has fired five short-range missiles this week — two on Monday and three on Tuesday — according to Won Tae-jae, a spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense, the South’s Yonhap news agency said. North Korea’s actions have heightened tensions worldwide, though U.S. officials said other nations will not be intimidated by the “provocative and destabilizing” moves, particularly Monday’s nuclear test. “If they want to continue to test and provoke the international community, they’re going to find that they will pay a price, because the international community is very clear — this is not acceptable, it won’t be tolerated, and they won’t be intimidated,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told CNN’s “American Morning.” After passing a nonbinding statement of criticism on Monday, the Security Council is now working on passing “a strong resolution with teeth,” Rice said. “Those teeth could take various different forms — there are economic levers, there are other levers that we might pursue,” she said.

North Korea first tested a nuclear weapon in October 2006. Pyongyang threatened last month to carry out a new test after the Security Council condemned its test-firing of a long-range rocket and extended economic sanctions against the nation, which desperately needs food and energy assistance. North Korea agreed in 2008 to scrap its nuclear weapons program — which it said had produced enough plutonium for about seven atomic bombs — in exchange for economic aid. But the deal foundered over verification and disclosure issues, and the North expelled international inspectors and announced plans to restart its main nuclear reactor.