North Korea cancels naval treaty

Tensions up as deal designed to prevent accidental conflict nixed.

north korea south korea 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
north korea south korea 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has announced it is canceling a treaty with South Korea designed to prevent accidental naval clashes. The step has been taken in response to Seoul blaming Pyongyang for a torpedo attack that sank a South Korean warship.
Tension on the divided peninsula rose after a team of international investigators said a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine sunk a South Korean warship on March 26, killing 46 sailors. North Korea has denied involvement and warned that retaliation would lead to war.
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On Thursday, North Korea's military said it will "completely nullify" an inter-Korean accord aimed at preventing accidental armed skirmishes along the disputed western sea border — a scene of three bloody maritime battles between the two Koreas.
"Immediate physical strikes will be launched" against any South Korean ships that intrude into North Korean waters, the country's military said in a statement, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
It said it will also ban South Korean personnel and vehicles from entering a joint industrial park at the North Korean border town of Kaesong — the last remaining major cross-border reconciliation project between the countries. It gave no timeframe, however.
The announcement came hours after a fleet of South Korean warships staged a large-scale anti-submarine drill off the west coast despite North Korea's warnings that such drills will drive the peninsula to the brink of war.
The two Koreas are still technically at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The US stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the Korean War.
South Korean and US troops are on their highest alert since North Korea's second nuclear test in May last year, reports said Thursday.