1953 Truce Not Valid, Says Korea; North Threatens a Military Strike If South Searches Ships for Weapons

Article excerpt

Byline: Ed Harris

NORTH KOREA today raised the stakes in its stand-off with the South by declaring it was no longer bound by the armistice which ended the Korean War in 1953.

The latest act of aggression came in response to South Korea joining an anti-proliferation exercise which could allow it to search the North's ships, a move aimed at stemming the flow of weapons of mass destruction into and out of the nuclear state.

North Korea said it could no longer guarantee the safety of shipping and that the South's participation in the exercise would be tantamount to a declaration of war. It threatened military action if its ships were searched.

North Korea has restarted a weaponsgrade nuclear plant, it was reported, while it staged a mass rally to celebrate its second nuclear test.

South Korea joined the American-led "proliferation security initiative" after Monday's underground nuclear test. Foreign minister Yu Myung-hwan called the naval exercise "a natural obligation", saying: "It will help control North Korea's development of dangerous material."

A North Korean military spokesman said: "Any hostile act against our peaceful vessels including search and seizure will be considered an unpardonable infringement on our sovereignty and we will immediately respond with a powerful military strike. …