Seoul army on the alert over threat from north

SOUTH KOREA put its armed forces on alert yesterday after Friday's announcement by North Korea that it was withdrawing from the Nuclear Weapons Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Unconfirmed reports said communist North Korea had moved troops up to the border between the two countries, while both sides issued defiant statements.

North Korea's 1.1 million- strong armed forces have been on a 'semi-war' footing since last Tuesday, in response to the continuing Team Spirit joint military exercises by US and South Korean troops in the south. South Korea's Defence Ministry said the Defence Minister, Kwon Young Hae, had ordered the south's 650,000 troops to be put on alert as a 'precaution' against any provocation from the north.

Pyongyang withdrew from the NPT rather than submit to international inspections of its nuclear facilities, as demanded by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The move has further strenghtened suspicions that the secretive state is well on the way to developing nuclear weapons.

In Tokyo, it was reported that Korean-language radio broadcasts to the peninsula had been blocked. Diplomats in Pyongyang said they had been told they could not travel outside the city without permission, and that local residents had been told not to talk to foreigners. South Korea's Yonhap news agency said North Korea had stopped issuing visas to foreigners, and that a routine UN delegation had been denied permission to enter the country. These moves appear to be an attempt by North Korea to stop its own population finding out that it has decided to leave the NPT.

South Korea's President, Kim Young Sam, said yesterday that North Korea was 'courting isolation from the international community'. The matter was discussed in the UN Security Council on Friday night, with most members highly critical of North Korea's move. 'It is viewed by most of the governments of countries represented on the Security Council as a very serious matter,' said David Hannay, the British Ambassador.

China, virtually the only country which maintains semi-cordial links with the maverick communist state, prevented the council from making any strong statement attacking Pyongyang. The US has indicated that it will push for sanctions to be imposed on North Korea.

North Korean radio yesterday warned the US of grave consequences should sanctions be imposed. According to a report in the Joongang Daily News, a national paper published in Seoul, 'high-level' sources in South Korea's government said Pyongyang had mobilised troops on the border with South Korea. If this is true, it will be the first time since 1983 that the north has massed troops on its border.

An announcement is expected tomorrow about the convening of a special board meeting of the IAEA in Vienna, probably at the end of the week.

The North Koreans signed the NPT in December 1985. They concluded an agreement on the safeguards protocol at the beginning of last year, which was ratified in April. They provided an inventory of all facilities on 4 May last year. The IAEA has performed six inspections since then, and concluded there were 'significant inconsistencies' between what was asked for and what was given, an IAEA spokesman said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Content Manager - Central London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Central...

HR Business Partner - Banking Finance - Brentwood - £45K

£45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: ** HR Business Partner - Senior H...

PA / Team Secretary - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: PA / Team Secretary - Mat...

Mechanical Lead

£65000 - £75000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Mechanical L...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on