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N. Korea to sever military hotline

March 27, 2013 at 6:55 AM   |   Comments

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PYONGYANG, North Korea, March 27 (UPI) -- North Korea Wednesday raised tensions on the Korean Peninsula another notch by telling South Korea that it was severing their military hotline.

Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency said that the head of the North's delegation to the two Koreas' general-level military talks said in a message to the South Wednesday he had been authorized to "inform the South side that the North-South military communications will be cut off ...," the Yonhap news agency reported.

On Tuesday, the Korean People's Army's Supreme Command claimed it had placed all of its missile and artillery units "into the No. 1 combat ready posture," targeting South Korea as well as the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, Guam and military installations in the Pacific. The U.S. Forces-Korea dismissed it as part of the North's "bellicose rhetoric and threats" designed to raise tensions and intimidate others.

Wednesday's warning about the military hotline follows the severing of the inter-Korean Red Cross hotline through the truce village of Panmunjom earlier this month.

KCNA also quoted the "Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army" as saying that due "to the reckless acts of the enemies," the military communications "which were set up for dialogue and cooperation between the North and the South has already lost its significance." The reference was to the United States and South Korea.

Yonhap, quoting analysts, said Wednesday's move would impact the operation of the inter-Korean industrial complex in the North's border town of Kaesong as the military hotline is used to guarantee the safety of South Koreans at the complex located just north the demilitarized zone.

South Korea's Ministry of Unification, noting the North was no longer answering calls on the hotline, said the Communist country must take immediate steps to reconsider its actions.

A ministry official said movement of people and vehicles, however, was not interrupted on Wednesday.

The North also has announced scrapping the 1953 Armistice agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War saying that it no longer respects existing non-aggression pacts between the two Koreas.

Separately Tuesday, KCNA quoted the North Korea Foreign Ministry that the United States' recent "hostile acts" have reached "the eve of nuclear war." It cited the participation of the U.S. B-52 bombers in the current U.S.-South Korea military drills, which the North said was to "stage a nuclear bomb dropping drill aimed at a surprise nuclear preemptive attack" on North Korea.

The isolated, impoverished Communist country has been venting its anger at the Untied States and its neighbors since the United Nations Security Council tightened its sanctions over the North's December long-range missile test and its February nuclear test, its third since 2006. It is also incensed over the U.S.-South Korean annual joint military drills.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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