Image credit: Joseph Ferris.
A few days earlier than promised, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has formally scrapped all non-aggression pacts with South Korea, closing a hotline with Seoul and shutting the border.
This latest move is in response to strict new UN sanctions against North Korea, co-drafted by America and China.
Shortly after the resolution was agreed the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, the body dealing with cross-border affairs on the peninsula, announced the cancellation of the hotline and non-aggression pact, repeating its threat to retaliate with “crushing strikes” if enemies trespass on to its territory and to cancel nuclear disarmament agreements with the South.
The new resolution was reached after lengthy discussions between the US and China, the North’s main ally. It aims to hinder the missile and nuclear programmes, as well as hitting the elite with a more stringent version of the 2006 ban on the export of luxury goods to the country. Measures include tightened financial restrictions and cargo inspections.
The North Korean announcement, carried on the KCNA state news agency, said the North was cancelling all non-aggression pacts with the South and closing the main Panmunjom border crossing inside the Demilitarized Zone.
It also said it was notifying the South that it was “immediately” cutting off the North-South hotline.
US and South Korean spokespeople were equally bullish in their response to this latest provocation from the North. Seoul’s defence ministry issued a statement that if the North were to carry out a nuclear attack on South Korea it would become “extinct from the Earth by the will of mankind”.
Senator Robert Menendez, chair of the US Senate foreign relations committee, said “I don’t think that the regime in Pyongyang wants to commit suicide, but that as they must surely know, that would be the result of any attack on the United States.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said China supported the UN resolution which he described as a “moderate response” to the DPRK’s nuclear test. He went on to urge for calm on both sides, and called for Pyongyang to resume negotiations.