North Korea cuts off hotline with South Korea

SEOUL Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:20am EDT

1 of 11. A man looks at a map bearing the demilitarized zone (DMZ), which separates the two Koreas, at Imjingak pavillion in Paju, north of Seoul, March 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has cut off a Red Cross hotline with South Korea as it escalates its war of words against Seoul and Washington in response to a military drill in the South and U.N. sanctions imposed for its recent nuclear test.

The North had threatened to cut off the hotline on March 11 if the United States and South Korea did not abandon their joint military exercise.

The Red Cross hotline is used to communicate between Seoul and Pyongyang which do not have diplomatic relations.

"We called at 9 a.m. and there was no response," a government official from South Korea said. The line is tested each day.

Pyongyang has also threatened to cut off a hotline with U.N. forces in South Korea, at the border "truce village" of Pammunjom.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen since the North conducted a third nuclear test on February 12, prompting new U.N. sanctions.

South Korea and U.S. forces are conducting large-scale military drills until the end of April, while the North is also gearing up for a massive state-wide military exercise.

North Korea has accused the United States of using the military drills in South Korea as a launch pad for a nuclear war and has threatened to scrap the armistice with Washington that ended hostilities in the 1950-53 Korean War.

The North has threatened a nuclear strike on the United States, but such a threat has been dismissed as rhetoric by analysts, as the North does not have the military capacity to reach the United States.

The North is viewed as more likely to stage some kind of attack along a disputed sea border, if it does anything at all, rather than risk a war with South Korea and the United States, which it would lose, according to most military assessments.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Michael Perry)

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Comments (25)
TheNewWorld wrote:
North Korea is just dying for another war. South Korea and the United States would be smart to not wait for the first strike from the North. They should be noegotiating with China for a regime change. Let China take the North Korean lands. Everyone, including the North Koreans would be better off.

Mar 10, 2013 9:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Munchma_Quchi wrote:
Looks like North Korea is close to asking for an introduction to the new and improved technology the US possesses.

Mar 10, 2013 9:52pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
gladechute wrote:
Problem is they will pour a million soldiers in to S.Korea, our old cold war friends. I think we’ve got 50,000 of our own right there too.

Mar 10, 2013 10:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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