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North Korea snaps peace pacts, hotline with South

Last updated on: March 8, 2013 11:46 IST

North Korea snaps peace pacts, hotline with South

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In an alarming development, North Korea on Friday cancelled all non-aggression pacts with South Korea and cut off a hotline with Seoul after the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved new sanctions on Pyongyang to punish it for its February 12 nuclear test.

"North Korea abrogates all agreements on non-aggression reached between the North and the South. It also notifies the South side that it will immediately cut off the North-South hotline," the state-run Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement, which was carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The announcement ramped up tensions on the Korean peninsula that have surged since the North staged a third nuclear test last month.

On Thursday, the country threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States and all other "aggressors". The US responded by saying it was "fully capable" of defending itself and its allies -- including South Korea -- against any North Korean missile strike.

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Image: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
Photographs: Reuters
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The main bilateral non-aggression pact was signed in 1991, endorsing the peaceful settlement of disputes and the prevention of accidental military clashes.

North Korea has threatened to sever the phone link -- installed in 1971 -- many times, and has actually done so twice before, South Korea's Unification Ministry noted.

As tensions rise on the peninsula, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited military units responsible for launching the 2010 attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, calling on troops to be ready for a confrontation with the enemy, Yonhap news agency reported.

The new UN resolution adopted Thursday was drafted by the US and China in response to Pyongyang's third nuclear test. It was approved unanimously by the 15-nation council, after three weeks of negotiations between the US and China.

It calls on the implementation of tighter financial restrictions on North Korea, and for a crackdown on its attempts to ship and receive banned cargo in breach of UN sanctions. It also calls on world governments to deny aircraft permission to take off, land or fly over their territory if illicit cargo is suspected to be on board.

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The resolution condemns North Korea's latest nuclear test "in the strongest terms" for violating council resolutions, bans further ballistic missile launches, nuclear tests "or any other provocation," and demands that North Korea return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

It goes on to condemn North Korea's ongoing nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment. It also stresses the UN Security Council's commitment "to a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution," and urges that six-party nuclear talks be resumed.

The new sanctions will "bite hard", said US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice. "They increase North Korea's isolation and raise the cost to North Korea's leaders of defying the international community."

China wants "full implementation" of the resolution, said its UN envoy Li Baodong, while stressing that efforts must be made to bring North Korea back to negotiations and to defuse tensions.

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Photographs: Reuters
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