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.

Sport
premier leagueLive: All the latest news and scores from today's matches
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
Queen Elizabeth II sends the first royal tweet under her own name to declare the opening of the new Information Age Galleries at the Science Museum, South Kensington, London
media... and the BBC was there to document one of the worst reactions
News
politics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker