North Korea says it has trashed the truce that ended the Korean War more than 50 years ago, citing South Korea’s involvement with the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) as the main reason, BBC reports.
The PSI is a U.S.-led initiative that searches ships thought to be carrying suspicious goods in an effort to prevent the transfer and trafficking of weapons of mass destruction. South Korea joined the initiative as a response to North Korea’s underground nuclear test, and says it will, in an effort to protect its own safety, partner with the more than 90 countries already participating.
North Korea says the South’s actions are essentially a “declaration of war” (stupid, right?). “Any hostile act against our peaceful vessels, including search and seizure, will be considered an unpardonable infringement on our sovereignty,” said the government in a statement released to the state-run news agency, KCNA.
“We will immediately respond with a powerful military strike.”
It makes sense for the South to participate in the PSI, especially at this time, and especially after reports that steam was seen emanating from the North’s main nuclear facility in Yongbyon, about 60 miles from Pyongyang. The steam confirms North Korea is making good on a threat; to reopen the major plant and start manufacturing weapons-grade plutonium. And I’ll bet it’s not to power a time-traveling DeLorean.
The scrapping of the truce however is particularly worrisome for two main reasons. First, North and South Korea have, for the last 50 years, been at each other’s throats, but even though their border is the most heavily armed in the world, they’ve been peaceful. There have been no major attacks. Negating the deal after 50 years of tense relations and the introduction of a leader in the South that Kim Jong-Il truly hates could result in an explosion of conflict and a barrage of bullets and bombs along the heavily armed border.
Second, the recent nuclear and missile test and North Korea’s assurance that they are developing technology to weaponize their nuclear arsenal make them a respectable (in the worst sense of the word) and formidable opponent. The country cares more about its reputation of power than its own people, evidenced by the high level of poverty in the nation. This hampers the widely accepted notion that the North is just doing all this to emit some sort of ray of strength before the health of Jong-Il deteriorates so much that he must appoint one of his sons.
The government recognizes the seriousness of trashing a half-century old truce, and they wouldn’t have done it just to prove they could and would wipe the South off the map if one of their vessels is so much as approached by PSI forces.
North Korea is a bully. It’s pretty simple. It’ll dish out a lot of heat and provoke as many people as it can, but when you try to calm it down or help it in anyway other than the way in which it believes it should be helped, it just gets angry and smacks you in the face.
The nuclear test was a slap in the face to the international community and the UN. For days, diplomats have been trying to come up with ways to heal their wounds behind closed doors. Sanctions may be placed, actions will be condemned.
But as long as Jong-Il is Commander-in-Chief, his country’s actions will continue to confuse everyone to the breaking point.
Maybe just because he likes the attention. Or maybe because he really does hate everyone and everything that opposes him.