North Korea declared a “state of war” with its neighboring North on Saturday, and warned both Washington and Seoul to not stir the conflict further as it will result into a nuclear war.
The White House said it took the announcement “seriously” and labeled the threat as “nonconstructive”, while South Korea largely dismissed it as an old threat dressed in new clothing.
“North Korea has a long history of bellicose rhetoric and threats and today’s announcement follows that familiar pattern,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
In Seoul, the Unification Ministry insisted the war threat was “not really new” and the Defense Ministry added that no notable troop movement had been observed along the border.
It was the latest in a string of dire-sounding pronouncements from Pyongyang that have been matched by tough warnings from Seoul and Washington, fuelling international concern that the situation might spiral out of control.
The two Koreas have been technically in a state of war for six decades under an armistice that ended their 1950-53conflict. Despite its threats few people see any indication Pyongyang will risk a near-certain defeat by re-starting full-scale war.
“As of now, inter-Korea relations enter a state of war and all matters between the two Koreas will be handled according to wartime protocol,” the North said in a government statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
“The long-standing situation of the Korean peninsula being neither at peace nor at war is finally over,” the statement said, adding that any U.S. or South Korean provocation would trigger a “full-scale conflict and a nuclear war.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Friday signed off on an order putting its missile units on standby to attack U.S. military bases in the South and the Pacific, after the United States flew two nuclear-capable stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula in a rare show of force.
Earlier this month, North Korea also said that it was ripping up the armistice and other bilateral peace pacts signed with Seoul in protest against South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises.
Voiding the ceasefire theoretically opened the way to a resumption of hostilities, although the armistice was approved by the U.N. General Assembly, and both the U.N. and South Korea repudiated the North’s unilateral withdrawal.