Bellicose banter from North Korea reached new heights Monday, with the country saying it had terminated a 60-year armistice agreement with South Korea.
Although technically still at war, the 1953 agreement marked an end to large-scale hostilities. It's unclear if there will be any actual resumption of hostilities or if the move is merely rhetorical.
North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper announced the termination of the armistice Monday, accusing the United States of a plot to invade the country. The report cited a recent U.N. Security Council vote to apply sanctions and ongoing U.S.-South Korea military exercises as evidence.
"With such sanction the U.S. schemes to invade the DPRK as it did in Iraq," says a post on Rodong Sinmun's website. "According to the statement of a spokesman for the KPA Supreme Command, the Korean Armistice Agreement is to be scrapped completely just from today."
The state-run publication added: "If the U.S. thinks that it can make the DPRK an Iraq, it is a fatal miscalculation. The world would clearly witness how our army and people smash the US-led collective sanction and war ruckus and defend its dignity and status as a nuclear power and satellite launcher. We don't know an empty word."
More than 10,000 U.S. troops are reportedly involved in two months of planned military exercises in South Korea. The exercises, which began March 1, are code named Foal Eagle and Key Resolve.
"Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military drills are their premeditated saber-rattling to ignite the second Korean war," said a Sunday statement posted on the website of the country's Korean Central News Agency.
A separate post on the website complained of the U.S. undertaking a "high-handed campaign to stifle" the country and paraphrased military and party leaders as promising "to settle accounts with the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean nation, with arms only."
North Korea is conducting "unusually vigorous" military exercises, presumably in response to the U.S.-South Korea drills, The New York Times reports.
In February, North Korea conducted its third nuclear weapon test, resulting in a unanimous vote by the U.N. Security Council last Thursday to impose stiff new sanctions. In December, the totalitarian state claims it launched a satellite into space. The U.S. called the satellite launch a test of North Korean long-range rocket technology.
It's unclear exactly how much power Kim Jong Un, the country's 28-year-old ruler, wields in the country. In late February, Kim warmly greeted former NBA star Dennis Rodman, who visited the country for an exhibition basketball game. Upon returning to the U.S., Rodman said that Kim asked for a phone call from President Barack Obama and told him, "I don't want do war."
The U.N. reacted to North Korea's claim Monday by saying that the armistice remains in effect. A spokesman for the U.N. said that the armistice was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, and that neither North Korea or South Korea have the power to nullify it.
Tensions between North Korea, South Korea, and the U.S. have been high in the past without resulting in large-scale fighting. In 1968, North Koreans captured the Navy intelligence ship, USS Pueblo, holding the boat's 83 U.S. personnel hostage for eleven months. In 1969, the north shot down a U.S. spy plane near its coastline, killing 31 Americans. In 2010, a South Korean military ship was allegedly torpedoed by the north, killing 46.