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NK Still Belligerent on 56th Anniversary of Armistice

Posted July. 27, 2009 07:26,   


Today marks the 56th anniversary of the 1953 cease-fire armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War signed by North Korea, the U.S. and China. South Korea, however, was not one of the signatories.

The armistice can be broken by a violation by one side at anytime and the war can resume, however, because it simply ended the fighting rather than the war.

For a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, the armistice must be replaced with a peace treaty. Considering the difficulties in negotiating for such a treaty, experts say a realistic compromise and improved relations are urgently needed.

A hurdle in the efforts to replace the armistice with a peace treaty is technical matters. North Korea claims that only the U.S. and itself are eligible parties to the armistice since military commanders from the U.S., North Korea and China signed it, and that the Chinese military has left the peninsula.

In response, a Seoul official said, “This claim is a result of confusion and unilateral interpretation of the legal terms ‘party’ and ‘signatory,’” adding, “Pyongyang’s claim is unconvincing because a peace regime is a political treaty exchanged between governments of the countries engaged in war.”

Since replacing the Military Armistice Committee with a Panmunjom representative in 1994, North Korea has repeatedly said it will no longer honor the armistice. Soon after Seoul joined the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative May 25 this year, Pyongyang said in a statement by the representative two days later that Seoul’s participation is a declaration of a war.

“Our (North Korean) military will no longer follow regulations under the Armistice Agreement,” the representative said.

North Korea’s attempt to dismiss the armistice is seen as its bid to sign a bilateral peace treaty with the U.S. In so doing, Pyongyang seeks to exclude Seoul in the process.

In contrast, South Korea and the United Nations Command say the armistice remains in effect until the signing of a peace treaty, and that they are committed to preserving the agreement.