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.

News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Life and Style
View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
food + drink(and for now, there's a clear winner)
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Irradiated turkey and freeze dried mash potato will be on the menu this thanksgiving
video
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
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

Langley James : CRM Services Manager; West London up to £40k

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Langley James : CRM Services Manager; West London u...

Langley James : IT Support; Residential Agency; Mayfair; up to £30k

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Langley James : IT Support; Residential Agency; May...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?