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North Korea Threatens SK Over PSI Entry

Posted May. 28, 2009 08:06,   


North Korea stepped up its hostile rhetoric against South Korea yesterday, calling Seoul’s full participation in the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative a declaration of war.

“We will react militarily to any hostile act by South Korea,” the North said. “The Korean War armistice has lost its binding power, so the Korean Peninsula is at war.”

In a statement issued through the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, the Panmunjom Mission of the North Korean People`s Army said, “We cannot guarantee the legal status of South Korea’s five islands (Baeknyeong, Daecheong, Socheong, Yeonpyeong and Udo) in waters northeast of our maritime borders and the safety of U.S. and South Korean naval and commercial vessels operating in neighboring waters.”

Experts say this comment, along with the declaration to nullify the Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea in January, is a signal from the North that it is prepared for a military confrontation with the South.

Blasting the South for joining the U.S-led initiative, the North said, “Any hostile act by South Korea, including a crackdown on and search of our vessels, will be deemed a violation of our republic’s sovereignty and met with strong military attacks.”

“Our military is no longer bound to the armistice,” it said, adding, “If the armistice loses its binding power, the Korean Peninsula is legally at war. Accordingly, our revolutionary forces will carry out military action.”

The North`s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland also issued a statement the same day, saying, “(The South) has declared war on us by brutally trampling on our dignity and autonomy,” adding, “We will respond with measures corresponding to those taken in wartime.”

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak learned of the North’s reaction to South Korea’s joining of the initiative at a meeting with foreign affairs and security advisers. He ordered relevant ministries to calmly react, according to presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan.

A South Korean destroyer has been dispatched to the Yellow Sea to prepare for a possible military provocation. The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said, “We’ve prepared countermeasures based on various scenarios for North Korea’s possible provocations near the Northern Limit Line, though we cannot disclose more details about them.”

President Lee also phoned Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the afternoon and agreed to on stern action against North Korea’s second nuclear test.

The Russian leader said, “The international community must show a strong reaction to North Korea’s provocations. I agree with the U.N. Security Council’s adoption of a resolution as being helpful in dealing with the issue.”

“North Korea’s provocative act cannot be justified no matter what.”

kyle@donga.com ysh1005@donga.com