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North Korea warns South on sanctions

Seoul, Jan. 25: North Korea threatened today to take “physical countermeasures” against South Korea if it helps enforce tightened sanctions against the besieged North, calling the UN-endorsed penalties a “declaration of war” and warning of a prolonged chill in the relations between the two Koreas.

North Korea’s confrontational posture is likely to significantly limit room for the South’s incoming conservative President, Park Geun-hye, to make overtures for reconciliation with the North; like the departing President Lee Myung-bak and President Obama, Park considers the dismantling of the North’s nuclear programme the premise in all of South Korea’s diplomacy towards the North.

Since her December election, she has said she will not tolerate the North’s nuclear programme and will deal sternly with North Korean provocations.

In a statement issued in the name of its Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, which manages relations with South Korea, North Korea gave no hint of what those countermeasures might be. The remarks came just one day after North Korea issued a blunt new threat to the US, saying it was a “target” because Washington had intensified its “hostile” policy of “stifling” the already impoverished country.

While its earlier pronouncements more often than not turned out to be bluster, North Korea does have a history of following up some with unexpected military attacks — most recently, its shelling of a border island in 2010 that left four South Koreans dead. It was also blamed for sinking a South Korean warship the same year, leaving 46 sailors dead. Those two episodes brought the two Koreas closer than ever in recent decades to waging a full-scale war.

 
 
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