North Korea Scraps Armistice, Cuts Hotline as War Games Begin

UN will today look at North Korea's appalling human rights record

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 11, 2013 4:16 AM CDT | Updated Mar 11, 2013 7:58 AM CDT

(Newser) – North Korea today "completely scrapped" the armistice that held a tenuous peace on the peninsula for six decades, reports the Washington Post, even as American and South Korean troops began the large-scale military drills Pyongyang had warned them to abandon. The North is playing up its unpredictability, saying in a state-run newspaper today that with the armistice gone, “no one can expect what will happen next.” Further heightening tensions: The Red Cross hotline the North uses to communicate with Seoul has gone dead. "We called at 9am and there was no response," explains a South Korean official of the line, which it tries daily. The North has also threatened to cut off its hotline with UN troops—and to nuke the United States.

  • North Korea, which is planning huge military exercises of its own, claims the US-South Korea drills are a move to launch a nuclear war. Analysts believe Pyongyang isn't capable of launching a nuclear strike on the US even if the regime was deranged enough to try. But some kind of attack along the disputed sea border with South Korea is seen as a more realistic possibility, reports Reuters.

  • As threats fly back and forth, some South Koreans are openly discussing obtaining nuclear weapons of their own. Pyongyang's nuclear test last month, its third, "was for South Korea what the Cuban missile crisis was for the US," a professor at the Korea National Defense University tells the New York Times. "It has made the North Korean threat seem very close and very real."
  • The hotline-closing and scrapping of peace pacts have recent precedents, but the mood in Seoul is tenser than it has been after previous outbursts from Pyongyang, the BBC finds. North Korea's tone is more belligerent, and people fear the regime is more willing to back its threats up with action.
  • If Pyongyang was enraged by fresh UN sanctions last week, today will be more of the same as the UN examines its appalling human rights record, the New York Times reports. An investigator will present a report that is expected to lead to an inquiry into possible crimes against humanity.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, walks with military personnel as he arrives on Mu Islet in the southernmost part of the southwestern sector of North Korea's border with South Korea.   (AP Photo/KCNA via KNS)
South Korean soldiers set up a barbed wire fence near the border village of Panmunjom today.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
South Korean soldiers patrol along a barbed-wire fence near Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, Monday evening, March 11, 2013.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
South Korean Army soldiers patrol along a barbed-wire fence near Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, Monday, March 11, 2013.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
South Korean soldiers drill against possible attacks by North Korea near Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, Monday, March 11, 2013.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, center, presides over a cabinet meeting at the Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, March 11, 2013.   (AP Photo/Do Kwang-hwan, Yonhap)
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