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March 3, 2021

North Korea cuts military hotline with South

North Korea says it is cutting a military hotline with South Korea, amid high tension on the peninsula, the BBC reports. The hotline is used to facilitate the travel of South Korean workers to a joint industrial complex in Kaesong. Pyongyang has been angered by fresh UN sanctions following its 12 February nuclear test and US-South Korea military drills. In recent weeks its habitually fiery rhetoric has escalated, with multiple warnings issued. On Tuesday, it said it had ordered artillery and rocket units into “combat posture” to prepare to target US bases in Hawaii, Guam and the US mainland. It has also threatened a “pre-emptive” nuclear strike against the US in recent days and told the South it has scrapped the Korean War armistice agreement. While the situation is currently unpredictable, some analysts believe Pyongyang may be trying to force the US and others into negotiations, with all-out war unlikely, says the BBC’s Lucy Williamson in Seoul.

US Pentagon spokesman George Little said on Tuesday that North Korea’s threats “followed a pattern designed to raise tensions” and that North Korea would “achieve nothing by these threats”.North Korea has already cut both a Red Cross hotline and another used to communicate with the UN Command at Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone that divides the two Koreas.  Until now, operations at the joint complex have been normal despite the rise in tensions.

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