The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

March 27, 2013

North Korea says it has cut last military hotline



SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Raising tensions with South Korea yet again, North Korea cut its last military hotline with Seoul on Wednesday, saying there was no need to continue military communications between the countries in a situation "where a war may break out at any moment."

A senior North Korean military official informed the South that all military dialogue and communications channels would remain cut until South Korea halts its "hostile acts" against the North.

The hotline shutdown is the latest of many threats and provocative actions from North Korea, which is angry over U.S.-South Korean military drills and recent U.N. sanctions punishing it for its Feb. 12 nuclear test.

North Korea recently cut a Red Cross hotline with South Korea and another with the U.S.-led U.N. command at the border between the Koreas.

The link cut Wednesday had been essential in operating the last major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation: an industrial complex in the North that employs hundreds of workers from the South. It was used by the two countries' militaries to arrange for workers and shipments to cross their heavily armed border.

There was no immediate word about the impact on South Korean workers who were at the Kaesong industrial complex. When the link was last cut in 2009, many South Koreans were stranded in the North.

Outside North Korea, Pyongyang's actions are seen in part as an effort to spur dormant diplomatic talks to wrest outside aid, and to strengthen internal loyalty to young leader Kim Jong Un and build up his military credentials.

North Korea's action was announced in a message that its chief delegate to inter-Korean military talks sent to his South Korean counterpart.

"Under the situation where a war may break out any moment, there is no need to keep North-South military communications," he said. "North-South military communications will be cut off."

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