N. Korea to Scrap Military Safeguard Pacts with S. Korea

SEOUL

North Korea’s military said on Thursday it is scrapping a pact aimed at preventing accidental armed clashes with South Korea, as tensions rose sharply over the sinking of a warship.

The general chiefs of staff, in a notice to the South’s armed forces, also warned of an immediate attack if the South violates the disputed Yellow Sea border, Pyongyang’s official news agency reported.

North Korea “will completely nullify an accord which was signed by the two sides to prevent accidental clashes” in the Yellow Sea, it said.

The flashpoint border was the scene of deadly clashes in 1999 and 2002 and of a firefight last November. On March 26 an explosion blew a South Korean corvette in two in the area.

Investigators from five countries said last week they found overwhelming evidence that a torpedo attack by a North Korean submarine was to blame.

The South has announced a series of reprisals. The North, which denies involvement, has responded by announcing it would cut all ties with the South.

The North’s military said it was scrapping safety guarantees for South Koreans crossing the border, and would consider a complete block on access to a joint industrial estate in its territory.

“We will withdraw all military safeguard measures that our armed forces are supposed to guarantee in relation to inter-Korean cooperation and exchanges,” its statement said.

“Therefore, we will consider completely shutting down all military communications lines in the west and the east of the border and overland passage to the Kaesong industrial complex.”

The military also repeated a threat to attack loudspeakers if Seoul goes ahead with its plan to resume cross-border propaganda broadcasts as part of the reprisals.

Some 42,000 North Koreans work in 110 South Korean factories at Kaesong, which was developed as a symbol of reconciliation. Its operations have frequently been hit as political tensions rise.

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