1953 war truce nullified: N Korea
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North Korea declared the 1953 Korean War armistice nullified on Monday, following through on a longstanding threat that it renewed last week amid rising tensions with South Korea.
The move comes as the United States and South Korea are in the midst of two months of joint military drills, which started on March 1, and on Monday they began another planned joint military exercise that involved bringing 2,500 troops from the United States. Stirring up a sense of crisis among its impoverished people, North Korea was also staging an unusually vigorous military drill of its own, South Korean officials said.
However, there were no signs of hostility along the border between the two Koreas. South Korean officials said they were increasing their vigilance amid fears that North Korea might use the United States-South Korean military drills and a fresh round of United Nations sanctions as an excuse to create an armed skirmish against the South.
"We must deal strongly with a North Korean provocation," the South's new president, Park Geun-hye, said during her first cabinet meeting on Monday. She called for the protection of people living on a border island that was attacked by North Korean artillery in 2010 and of South Koreans working in a joint industrial park in the North Korean border city of Gaesong.
But she also said her two-week-old government would work to build "trust" with North Korea.
The exchange of bellicose language between the two Koreas has recently intensified, recalling the level of tension after the North Korean artillery barrage in 2010, which left four South Koreans dead. After the UN imposed the new sanctions as penalty for the North's third nuclear test, on February 12, the North said it would nullify the armistice and it was being threatened with a pre-emptive nuclear strike; it might itself pre-empt with nuclear strikes on Washington and Seoul. South Korea responded in case of such attacks, the North Korean government would be "erased from the Earth."
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