North Korea said Tuesday that it will sever all relations with South Korea and won't engage in any inter-Korean dialogue or contact during the remaining tenure of President Lee Myung-bak.
N. Korea says will sever all inter-Korean relations
In a statement issued by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, the North vowed to cut all communication links with the South and expel all South Korean personnel from the inter-Korean industrial complex in the North's border town of Kaesong.
The North also pledged to freeze and dismantle the Consultative Office for South-North Economic Cooperation in the Kaesong Industrial Zone while completely suspending the work of Panmunjom Red Cross liaison representatives.
The statement went on to say that Pyongyang will ban South Korean ships and airliners from passing through the North's territorial waters and air, in addition to starting an all-out counterattack against the South's anti-North psychological warfare.
"The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea formally declares that from now on it will put into force the resolute measures to totally freeze the inter-Korean relations, totally abrogate the agreement on non-aggression between the north and the south and completely halt the inter-Korean cooperation," said the statement carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency.
"All the issues arising in the inter-Korean relations will be handled under a wartime law," the statement said, strongly denouncing President Lee over his earlier statement holding the North responsible for a torpedo attack on the South's patrol ship Cheonan near the western sea border on March 26.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have flared after a multinational investigation concluded last Thursday that a North Korean submarine slipped into the South's waters near their Yellow Sea border and attacked the Cheonan with a torpedo.
North Korea, which has strongly denied any involvement in the sinking, has threatened to wage an "all-out war" if there are any attempts to punish the North.
"The DPRK had already solemnly declared that it would regard the South's anti-DPRK smear campaign over the sinking of the warship as a declaration of a war against the DPRK and mete out a merciless and strong punishment if the group dare defile its dignity," said the North's statement, using the abbreviation of its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"The army and the people of the DPRK and all other Koreans will never pardon the group of traitors as it is finally bringing the dark clouds of war to hang over the Korean Peninsula, wantonly violating the historic June 15 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration and bringing the inter-Korean relations to a total collapse," it said, calling President Lee a "traitor."
The latest statement from Pyongyang came as South Korea has been trying to drum up international support to punish North Korea for the deadly attack that killed 46 South Korean sailors, and bring the case to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
On Monday, President Lee and his ministers announced a slew of punitive measures against the North, including halting trade with the impoverished neighbor, banning commercial North Korean ships from passing through southern waters, resuming anti-Pyongyang broadcasts, and staging military and anti-proliferation drills.
The president then indicated Tuesday that South Korea will re-designate North Korea as its main enemy in its defense white paper, while Seoul's Navy announced a plan to hold an anti-submarine drill later this week in waters off the west coast in its first show of military force after the North's torpedo attack on the Cheonan.
The two Koreas are technically still at war, as their 1950-1953 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. [Yonhap]