South Korea rejects North decision to scrap armistice

South Korea rejects North decision to scrap armistice

SEOUL - Agence France-Presse
South Korea rejects North decision to scrap armistice

South Korean soldiers drive K-55 155mm self-propelled howitzers at a drill field in the border city of Paju on March 12, 2013. North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un threatened to "wipe out" a South Korean island as Pyongyang came under new economic and diplomatic fire from US sanctions and UN charges of gross rights abuses. AFP PHOTO/YONHAP

South Korea said Tuesday it refused to recognise North Korea's move to unilaterally scrap the 60-year-old Korean War armistice, and urged Pyongyang to row back on its recent warlike rhetoric.

The North announced last week its intention to shred the armistice and other bilateral peace pacts signed with Seoul if South Korea and the United States went ahead with an annual joint military exercise.

The joint drill was launched on Monday.

"Unilateral abrogation or termination of the armistice agreement is not allowed under its regulations or according to international law," Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-Young told reporters.

Voiding the armistice theoretically paves the way for a resumption of hostilities, as the two Koreas never signed a formal peace treaty after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended and remain technically at war.

Cho stressed that the ceasefire accord remained valid and that South Korea, in cooperation with China and the United States, would "resolutely" thwart any attempt by the North's to have it nullified.

"We demand North Korea withdraw remarks threatening stability and peace on the Korean peninsula and in the region," Cho added.

North Korea has declared the ceasefire dead or obsolete nearly a dozen times in the past 20 years.

N Korean leader threatens strike on South island

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has issued a detailed threat to "wipe out" a small South Korean island in a further escalation of already elevated military tensions on the Korean peninsula.

In a visit Monday to border artillery units, Kim identified Baengnyeong Island on the South side of the disputed maritime frontier as a priority target in the event of conflict.

The visit coincided with the launch of a joint South Korea-US military drill that has prompted Pyongyang to announce the scrapping of the 60-year-old Korean War armistice, along with non-aggression pacts signed with the South.

The North has also threatened nuclear strikes on the United States and South Korea as a reprisal for UN sanctions imposed over its third nuclear test last month.