North Korea says even minor attempts by South Korea or the United
States to interfere with its shipping will trigger what it calls a
"return to a state of war." Pyongyang vows it will not be bound by the
terms of a 56-year-old armistice, if South Korea or the United States
searches its vessels under an American-led nonproliferation
North Korean military representatives warned
South Korea, Wednesday, its decision to join an American-led security
arrangement is being seen as a "declaration of war."
statement, delivered by North Korean military representatives in the
demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, was read on North Korean
An announcer says any attempts to interfere with North Korea's peaceful shipping will trigger strong military countermeasures.
announced Tuesday it will fully join the Proliferation Security
Initiative (PSI) a day after North Korea conducted its second test of a
nuclear weapon. More than 90 nations have joined the voluntary
cooperative, which coordinates international intelligence and naval
activity, to disrupt the transport of weapons of mass destruction.
North and South Korea remain in a state of war. A 1953 armistice
halted fighting three years after the North invaded the South, but no
peace treaty was ever signed. Pyongyang warned Wednesday, it is ready
to disregard the armistice, in the current environment.
announcer says U.S. and South Korean actions to enforce PSI would
present such a grave challenge to the armistice, that North Korea would
no longer be bound to it, either.
Wednesday's statement says
North Korea cannot guarantee the safety of ships in a sea zone west of
the peninsula, where the North has never accepted a maritime border
drawn by the United Nations.
Professor Yang Moo-jin, of Seoul's
Kyungam University Graduate School of North Korean Studies, says the
statement increases the danger of "physical" steps by the North.
He says an exchange of fire could happen "at any time" in the Korean peninsula's West Sea, if South Korea deploys vessels there.
Korea is vastly outmatched by the United States and South Korea, in
terms of military technology and logistics. Baek Seung-joo, of the
Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul, says North Korea is
likely to be very careful about using force. He also believes North
Korea is overreacting on the PSI issue.
Baek says nowhere in the
PSI charter is North Korea mentioned specifically - he says it is just
a general agreement to prevent weapons trafficking. Baek says PSI does
not violate any treaties or other international agreement, because it
does not single out individual countries.
North Korea's recent
actions are certain to be high on the agenda next month, when South
Korean President Lee Myung-bak meets in Washington with President
Obama. President Lee praised the "maturity" of the South Korean public
Wednesday - noting that North Korea's threats have had almost no
effect on financial markets.