An enraged North Korea responded to new UN sanctions with fresh threats of nuclear war yesterday, vowing to scrap peace pacts with South Korea as it upped the ante yet again after its recent atomic test.
Pyongyang is renowned for its bellicose rhetoric, but the tone has reached a frenzied pitch in recent days, fuelling concerns of a border clash with both North Korea and South Korea planning major military exercises next week.
It has threatened a “pre-emptive nuclear attack” against the US and South Korea — a notion dismissed as bluster by analysts, but not without dangerous, underlying intent.
North Korea “abrogates all agreements on non-aggression reached between the North and the South,” the state-run Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) said yesterday.
The committee said the pacts would be voided as of Monday, the same day that Pyongyang has vowed to rip up the 1953 armistice agreement that ended Korean War hostilities.
It also announced the immediate severing of a North-South hotline installed in 1971.
Meanwhile, state TV showed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un laying preparations for “all-out war” as he visited a frontline military unit involved in the shelling of a South Korean island in 2010.
The shelling came eight months after the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel with the loss of 46 lives that was also blamed on Pyongyang.
“To me, this feels like the most dangerous situation since the Korean War,” said Paik Hak-soon, a North Korean analyst at the Sejong Institute in Seoul. “The North is cornered more than ever in the international community and will keep pushing ahead with even more confrontational moves militarily.”
South Korean President Park Geun-hye said the situation had become “very grave,” but vowed to “deal strongly” with any provocation from the North.
In Beijing, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) urged “relevant parties to exercise calm and restraint, and avoid actions that might further escalate tensions,” describing the situation as “highly complex and sensitive.”
Yesterday’s CPRK statement condemned the UN resolution as proof that Washington and its “puppets” in Seoul were “hell-bent” on confrontation.
“North-South relations have gone so far beyond the danger line that they are no longer reparable and an extremely dangerous situation is prevailing ... where a nuclear war may break out right now,” it said.