N.K. says not bound to armistice
"Mr. Kagan, Mr. Robert Kagan to the black courtesy phone ..."
North Korea said yesterday it would conduct military strikes and would no longer be bound to the armistice agreement in response to Seoul's recent decision to fully join the Proliferation Security Initiative.

"Our revolutionary forces will consider the full participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative as a declaration of war against us and will immediately and effectively respond with military strikes against any attempts - including inspections and crackdowns - to inspect our ships," said the North's permanent military mission to the joint security area of the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjeom.

Pyongyang's statement also said since it will no longer abide by the armistice, it could no longer guarantee the safety of South Korean and U.S. military ships and private vessels moving along the western sea border.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a statement pledging a "stern response to any provocation by the North."

The military tightened security on the West Sea. The Navy forward-deployed a 3,500 ton-class KDX-I destroyer and readied additional artillery and missiles near the maritime border, military officials said. Seoul also activated an exclusive task force to keep North Korea's nuclear activities in check.

President Lee Myung-bak ordered the government to respond calmly to the North's threat while he met his foreign affairs advisers.

The North's latest threats came a day after South Korea announced its decision to fully participate in the PSI, a U.S.-led campaign to fight the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction and related materials. Under the campaign, member countries are encouraged to interdict and seize ships and planes suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction. Pyongyang has said it considers the exercise a violation of the Korean War armistice, which bans attempts at naval blockage in the region.

Seoul's decision to upgrade its status in the PSI to full-membership from its previous observer status followed on the heels of North Korea's second nuclear test conducted on Monday. It had been planning to become a member since March, but delayed the announcement to support the efforts for reconciling with Pyongyang.

The North also fired five short-range missiles between Monday and Tuesday.

Pyongyang said the tests were to help strengthen its nuclear deterrence. Government sources are now expecting possible further military activity in the West Sea, as the North has banned ships from the area, suggesting the communist state is preparing to launch short-range missiles there.

In 2006, North Korea had coupled its first nuclear test with the launch of seven launches, including a long-range missile.

The latest nuclear test from the North was in line with the threats it issued shortly after the United Nations Security Council denounced its April 5 rocket launch. Pyongyang has also since boycotted the six-nation talks aimed at denuclearization.

Considering that the North has slapped away the United States' offers at bilateral talks, some experts now believe that the North may be seeking official nuclear power status. But others, citing the crude level of North Korea's nuclear technology, say Pyongyang has set its sights too high.

"While North Korea might have a few nuclear weapons, their capabilities are both quantitatively and qualitatively well below the capabilities of even the small nuclear powers (India and Pakistan), let alone China or Britain or France or Israel, and North Korea is immensely less capable than the United States or Russia," said Bruce Bennett, a senior researcher at the U.S.-based RAND Corp.
"If the term 'nuclear power' refers to these other eight states, North Korea is not of comparable stature and should not be referred to in a manner that makes it a peer of the other eight."
As was pointed out elsewhere in the Burg, even a 2kT nuclear blast can ruin your day.

Posted by: Kofi Claitle6576 2009-05-27