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SEOUL: - North Korea said yesterday it was abandoning the truce that ended the Korean War, and warned it could launch a military attack on the South, two days after testing an atomic bomb for the second time.
The announcement came amid reports that the secretive North, which outraged the international community with its bomb test on Monday, was restarting production of weapons-grade plutonium.
Defying global condemnation, the Kim Jong Il regime said it could no longer guarantee the safety of US and South Korean ships off its west coast, and that the Korean peninsula was veering back towards war.South Korea, divided from the North by a heavily fortified border. The maritime border has long been a flashpoint between the two Koreas. North Korea disputes the line unilaterally drawn by the UN at the end of the Koreas' three-year war in 1953, and has demanded it be redrawn further south.
The armistice signed in 1953, which is not a permanent peace treaty, and subsequent military agreements call for both sides to refrain from warfare, but do not cover the waters off the west coast. North Korea has used the maritime border dispute to provoke two deadly naval skirmishes - in 1999 and 2002.
Analysts say Pyongyang's military grandstanding is partly aimed at tightening leader Kim Jong Il's grip on power to better engineer his succession and divert attention from a weak economy, which has fallen into near ruin since he took over in 1994.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, ASSOCIATED PRESS