The military alert in South Korea has been raised to its highest level for years in the face of continuing threats and belligerence from the North. Pyongyang’s decision to rip up the truce ending the 1950s Korean war, and threaten pre-emptive attacks in the South has set nerves jangling in the De-militarized Zone, where two million heavily-armed troops watch each other warily.
Washington has re-affirmed its military commitment to South Korea and urged the North to back away from confrontation. “I want to underscore the commitments that the United States has, and intends always to honour, for the defence of South Korea and Japan,” said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “That is part of our alliance obligation which we take very seriously. So we hope that there will be an opportunity for North Korea to come back into a framework of discussion within the six-party process.”Pyongyang followed its recent missile and nuclear weapons tests with warnings that the South’s decision to search ships suspected of carrying weapons was a declaration of war. Round-the-clock propaganda films on the North’s state-run television have raised tension even further, along with the re-opening of a plutonium processing plant. However it’s thought Pyongyang is a long way from being able to deliver an effective nuclear bomb.