In a rare response to North Korea's bluster, South Korea's military today warned that it is ready to strike at the North's "command leadership" if provoked—a term that could be referring to Kim Jong Un, the New York Times reports. The warning follows the North's threat yesterday to cancel the Korean War ceasefire over new UN sanctions. Typically, Seoul considers Pyongyang's threats to be propaganda and ignores them; this response marks a significant ratcheting up of tensions between the two countries, the Times notes. Here's the statement:
- "If North Korea attempts a provocation that threatens the lives and security of our people, our military will forcefully and decisively strike not only the origin of provocation and its supporting forces but also its command leadership. We make it clear that we are all prepared."
"We read [North Korea's] confidence in nuclear weapons behind their aggressive, more provocative rhetoric and actions recently," says one expert, and the Times reports that officials echo that sentiment. And, Reuters reports, Pyongyang has set no-fly and no-sail zones, indicating it is preparing to conduct major military drills off its east and west coasts—or even test-fire missiles, warns the South. For more, the AP takes a look today at what a cancellation of the Korean War armistice would really mean. For one thing, the already-violent Demilitarized Zone between North and South could become even more violent—and it's located just an hour from Seoul.