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ROK rejects DPRK warnings

Agencies/China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-13 02:56

Seoul's defense ministry on Tuesday dismissed Pyongyang's repeated warnings of military action as "psychological tactics", as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea warned its southern neighbor and Washington of the "catastrophic consequences" of their ongoing joint military drills.

Kim Min-seok, the Republic of Korea's defense ministry spokesman, said the DPRK "has been consistently issuing rhetorical threats warning of provocations". He called the threats "an attempt to put psychological pressure" on the ROK.

He said the moves were "an attempt" to put pressure on the ROK and United States to change their policy toward the DPRK.

While the DPRK is trying to create a "war-like" atmosphere, there is no current indication that it is preparing for additional nuclear or missile tests, the spokesman told reporters. The DPRK's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement on Tuesday that the US and the ROK "are wholly to blame for all the ensuing catastrophic consequences from this moment".

The statement is the latest example of the type of strong rhetoric used by the DPRK over the joint military exercises held by the US and the ROK, which the DPRK says are a rehearsal for invasion.

ROK authorities have repeatedly pledged to immediately retaliate if attacked by their northern neighbor. The ROK Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the Armistice Agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War remains valid, despite the DPRK's threats to scrap the cease-fire deal, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The ROK is trying to show goodwill to the DPRK under the leadership of its new President Park Geun-hye, observers said.

Park will visit the US on her first overseas trip as president in May. An ROK presidential spokesman confirmed the trip on Tuesday, Yonhap reported.

The ROK is now sending signals that it would like to improve relations with the DPRK, offering Pyongyang an opportunity for talks, said Wang Junsheng, a researcher on East Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Pyongyang always reacts with strong words and it is difficult for it to change its tune, but it should be focused on what it will do next to deal with its relations with the ROK and the international community, he said.

Bank sanctions

Meanwhile, the US Treasury is imposing sanctions on the DPRK's Foreign Trade Bank, the country's main foreign exchange institution, which it says plays a role in supporting Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

The US State Department also said on Monday it was imposing sanctions on three individuals tied to the DPRK's nuclear activities, who are from Pyongyang's defense circle. Sanctions are being used to punish Pyongyang for violating the UN resolution, but the US should know that sanctions are not the solution, because sanctions alone cannot resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, said Wang of the CASS.

The sanctions would not have much impact on the DPRK's economic development, he added.

In a speech to the Asia Society in New York, White House aide Tom Donilon said China should not conduct "business as usual" with the DPRK.

Asked about Beijing-Pyongyang ties, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the stable development of China-DPRK relations is in line with the interests of both sides, and favors peace and stability in this region.

Reuters — Xinhua — China Daily

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