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North Korea threatens to end 1953 armistice over US-S. Korea war games

The armistice between North and South Korea has been in place for nearly 60 years. The government of Kim Jong-un is upset over upcoming military manuevers by the US and South Korea.

By Jack Kim and Louis CharbonneauReuters / March 5, 2013

In this undated file photo released by the Korean Central News Agency and distributed by the Korea News Service, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attends a consultative meeting with officials in the fields of state security and foreign affairs at undisclosed location in North Korea.

KCNA via Korea News Service/AP/File

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Seoul/United Nations

North Korea threatened on Tuesday to scrap an armistice that ended the 1950-53 civil war and sever a military "hotline" with the United States if South Korea and Washington pressed on with two-month-long war games.

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It was a notable sharpening in the North's often bellicose rhetoric and followed word from UN diplomats that the United States and China had struck a tentative deal on a draft UN Security Council sanctions resolution that would punish North Korea for its third nuclear test, which it conducted last month.

"We will completely nullify the Korean armistice," the North's KCNA news agency said, quoting the Korean People's Army (KPA) Supreme Command spokesman.

"The war exercise being done by the United States and the puppet south Korea is a systematic act of destruction aimed at the Korean armistice."

The two Koreas remain technically at war since the 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

"We will be suspending the activities of the KPA representative office at Panmunjom (truce village) that had been tentatively operated by our army as the negotiating body to establish a peace regime on the Korean peninsula," KCNA quoted the spokesman as saying.

"Related to that, we will be making the decision in parallel to cut off the Panmunjom DPRK-US military hotline."

North Korea, officially called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), has made much of hotlines with the South and the United States over the years, but has not been known ever to have used them in times of increased tension.

About 200,000 Korean troops and 10,000 U.S. forces are expected to be mobilized for their defensive "Foal Eagle" exercise, under the Combined Forces Command, which began on March 1 and goes on until the end of April. Separate computer-simulated drills called "Key Resolve" start on March 11.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the UN diplomats said they hoped to receive the draft resolution on North Korea at Tuesday's council session. They added that they would like to see the council vote on the resolution by the end of this week.

"I hope to see a draft tomorrow perhaps, but you know it's up to the Americans," a diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Details of the draft were not immediately available.

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