North Korea says it is scrapping all political and military agreements with South Korea. This is the latest threat from Pyongyang in a series of increasingly hostile provocations directed at President Lee Myung-bak.
The Korean Central News Agency, the official mouthpiece of the Pyongyang regime, released a statement Friday declaring that North Korea will no longer honor political and military agreements between the two Koreas. The remarks, coming from the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, say Pyongyang will also scrap accords regarding the North's border with South Korea in the Yellow Sea. This site was the scene of bloody clashes between the two Koreas in 1999 and 2002. The statement also accused South Korea of pushing the two countries to the brink of war.
Seoul has so far responded by urging Pyongyang to engage in dialogue.
The South Korean Ministry of Unification released a statement read by spokesperson Kim Seon Mi.
"We the South Korean government express our deep regret over the claims North Korea made today to nullify all agreements regarding the political and military confrontational status and to scrap all articles of inter Korean agreements regarding the maritime demarcation line," said Kim. "All inter Korean agreements can be revised only through mutual consent, and can never been abandoned by unilateral demands by one side."
The South Korean military was already on heightened alert, when earlier this month North Korea threatened to adopt an all out confrontational posture.
Pyongyang has criticized the policies of conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who it calls a traitor to the reunification of the two nations.
Since taking office last year, President Lee has withheld much of the economic aid that was offered to Pyongyang by his two liberal predecessors, saying North Korea must dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for the aid.
Many analysts here see North Korea's increasingly bellicose rhetoric as its way of trying to intimidate Seoul to resume financial support.
But Lee Chang Min, dean of Yonsei University's Graduate School of International Studies believes these threats indicate instability within the Kim Jong il regime itself.
"I think the primary audience for North Korea's announcement that they were going to enter a period of hostilities with South Korea, was directed at their own population," said Lee. "Given the fact there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Kim Jung il's regime, I believe the regime's ability to maintain political control, is basically ebbing."
Pyongyang's hostile remarks coincide with speculation that leader Kim Jong il, has chosen one of his three sons to take over after his death.
Kim, who turns 68 in February, is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008.
North and South Korea technically remain at war because they never signed a peace treaty to end the 1950 to 1953 Korean Conflict.