Amid growing tension in the Korean Peninsula, North Korea on Monday scrapped the 60-year-old Armistice Agreement 1953 that ended the Korean War and threatened to strike the United States with nuclear weapons.
North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong Un told its troops to be on alert for a potential war, said a report by the state-run newspaper.
The move comes amid joint military drills by the United States and South Korea which began on 1 March. Another joint exercise that involves 2,500 US troops started on Monday. The United Nations' fresh sanctions on the impoverished country following its recent nuclear tests also seem to have angered North Korea.
"The U.S., finding fault with our self-defensive nuclear test, fabricated another resolution on sanction at the UN Security Council," reported the official newspaper of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party under the headline "Sanction Leading to War".
"The collective sanction is precisely a declaration of war and an act of war against the DPRK."
"What is graver is the fact that the U.S. cooked up the resolution on sanction timing to coincide with the "Key Resolve" and "Foal Eagle" joint military exercises," it went on to say, adding, "According to the statement of a spokesman for the KPA Supreme Command, the Korean Armistice Agreement is to be scrapped completely just from today."
Reacting to North Korea's claim, a UN spokesman said that Korean Armistice Agreement 1953 is still valid and Pyongyang has no authority to dissolve it.
South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye at her first cabinet meeting on Monday expressed the need to protect people living on the border island that was attacked by North Korean artillery in 2010 and the workers at a joint industrial park in Gaesong. She added that North Korea's provocation should be strongly dealt.
US National Security adviser Tom Donilon told the Asia Society that the country will protect its allies and respond to the threat posed by North Korea. The US government also reaffirmed its defence commitment to Japan in the wake of North Korea's nuclear test last month.
However, there is no sign of hostility between the countries along the border except the cutting of Red Cross hotline with South Korea. North Korea had earlier threatened to cut the hotline on 11 March if Seoul and Washington DC didn't cancel their joint military exercise.
North Korea's nuclear threat to the US looks fictional as Pyongyang has no lighter nuclear warheads, but South Korea and Japan are within its reach. North Korea's aggressive past is a worry factor. It was responsible for the attack in 2010 which killed four South Koreans. In the same year, a South Korean warship sank after an explosion killing 46 sailors. An international probe found out that North Korea was responsible for the incident but Pyongyang denied.
KOREAN WAR ARMISTICE AGREEMENT 1953
The Korean War, which began on 25 June, 1950, ended on 27 July, 1953 after signing the Korean Armistice Agreement.
US Army Lt. Gen. William Harrison, Jr, representing the United Nations Command and North Korean General Nam Il, representing the North Korean People's Army and the Chinese People's Volunteer Army, signed the Korean War Armistice Agreement on 27 July, 1953 to completely stop hostilities in Korea until a permanent solution is reached.
Here are the main points of the agreement written in English, Korean and Chinese:-
- To suspend open hostilities
- To withdraw military forces 4,000-metre-wide along the border and establish a demilitarised zone which would act as a buffer zone
- Waters of the Han River Estuary shall be open to civil shipping of both sides and the two sides will control each side of the bank.
- Both sides were prevented from entering the air, ground, or sea controlled by each other.
- To arrange the release of prisoners of war and repatriation of displaced persons
- To establish Military Armistice Commission (MAC) to deal with any violation on the agreement
- No person can cross the cross the military demarcation line unless specifically authorized by the Military Armistice Commission or the Commander of the other side.
The Korean War Armistice Agreement 1953 is a military document and no nation is a signatory to it. The armistice was not a permanent peace treaty between the two sides though it stopped hostilities.