North Korea has cut off a Red Cross hotline to South Korea, Reuters reported Monday. North Korea’s severing of the hotline is apparently in response to a military drill in South Korea and sanctions imposed on it by the UN and the South after its recent nuclear test.
The now-cut Red Cross hotline was used to communicate between Seoul and Pyongyang, the capitals. North and South Korea do not have formal diplomatic relations.
"We called at 9 a.m. and there was no response," a South Korean official said.
The hotline is tested each day.
North Korea also threatened to cut off the line with United Nations forces in South Korea.
The tensions between North and South Korea have been ratcheted up since the North conducted a third nuclear test on Feb. 12. That test resulted in U.N. sanctions.
Military forces in South Korea in conjunction with U. S. forces are conducting large-scale military drills until the end of next month, while at the same time the North is gearing up for a massive country-wide military exercise.
North Korea is accusing the US of covertly using the military drills in South Korea as a launch pad for a nuclear war. That is one of the triggers that may have motivated to cut the hotline. North Korea is also threatened to end the armistice with the US that ended the hostilities in the Korean War, which ran from 1950-53.
North Korea has threatened a nuclear hit on the US, but analysts say that is trash talk and that the North does not have the capability to reach the US.
Analysts say it is more likely that the North would stage an attack along a disputed sea border rather than risk a war with South Korea and the US. Military experts do not believe North Korea has any chance to win a war against any of its more powerful neighbors. But analysts agree that it is not promising news that North Korea would cut off the hotline to the South.
The US military publication, Stars and Stripes reported, “North Korea's rhetoric has risen with the more recent tensions. On Friday, it called joint US-South Korean military exercises now being conducted "open acts of aggression" and "a vivid expression of wanton violation of all the agreements on non-aggression reached between the North and the South."
"The frozen North-South relations have gone so far beyond the danger line that they are no longer repairable and an extremely dangerous situation is prevailing on the Korean Peninsula, where a nuclear war may break out right now," the committee statement read.”
But military analysts agree that North Korea cutting the hotline to the South represents an escalation of the tensions between the North and South.
Yahoo! News reports, “The North is viewed as more likely to stage some kind of attack along a disputed sea border, if it does anything at all, rather than risk a war with South Korea and the United States, which it would lose, according to most military assessments.”
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