US, South Korea raise surveillance level over North Korea


Seoul : South Korea and the US Thursday ramped up their surveillance over North Korea, as Pyongyang nullified its truce with Seoul and threatened war.

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The armed forces of both countries upped surveillance to the penultimate level of a five-state surveillance scale for the first time since North Korea’s first nuclear test in October 2006, the South Korean Yonhap news agency reported, quoting a defence ministry official.

“Additional intelligence assets, including personnel, will be deployed while reconnaissance operations over North Korea will increase,” defence spokesman Won Tae Jae said.

He added that the five-stage combat alert remained locked at level four.

North Korea Monday tested a nuclear device and Wednesday nixed a truce with South Korea, saying it felt no longer bound by the armistice that followed the Korean War (1950-53).

The Stalinist state also threatened it could no longer guarantee the safety of US and South Korean vessels at the western inter-Korean sea border in the Yellow Sea.

The US-led United Nations Command in South Korea meanwhile rejected Pyongyang’s claim it is no longer bound by the truce.

“The armistice remains in force and is binding on all signatories, including North Korea,” it said in a statement.

“The armistice has served as the legal basis for the ceasefire in Korea for over 55 years. … The UN Command will adhere to the terms of the armistice and the mechanisms that support it,” it said.

The US has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea as a deterrent.

North Korea’s nuclear test was unanimously condemned by the UN Security Council, which is debating further sanctions against the country.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that North Korea will face consequences for detonating a nuclear device and for the “belligerent” threats issued against neighbouring countries.