Koreas slide into Cold War-era standoff after North's nuke test

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of -- North Korea trumpets a hydrogen bomb test. South Korea responds by cranking up blasts of harsh propaganda from giant green speakers aimed across the world's most dangerous border.

See Full Article

Now Pyongyang warns of war.

As the world looked Saturday for ways to punish the North over a nuclear test that pushes Pyongyang closer to its goal of a nuclear armed missile that can reach the U.S. mainland, the two Koreas have quickly slid into the kind of Cold War-era standoff that has defined their relationship over the past seven decades.

A top North Korean ruling party official's warning that the South's broadcasts have pushed the Korean Peninsula "toward the brink of war" is typical of Pyongyang's over-top-rhetoric. But it is also indicative of the real fury that the broadcasts, which criticize the country's revered dictatorship, cause in the North.

Seoul resumed the cross-border broadcasts Friday for the first time in the nearly five months. Pyongyang says the broadcasts are tantamount to an act of war. When Seoul Korea briefly resumed propaganda broadcasts in August after an 11-year break, Seoul says the two Koreas exchanged artillery fire.

Besides the "brink of war" comment, Workers' Party Secretary Kim Ki Nam said in comments broadcasts on state TV Friday that Pyongyang's rivals are "jealous" of the North's successful hydrogen bomb test. Many outside governments and experts question whether the blast was a powerful hydrogen test.

South Korean troops, near about 10 sites where loudspeakers started blaring propaganda Friday, were on the highest alert, but have not detected any unusual movement from North Korea along the border, an official from Seoul's Defence Ministry, who refused to be named, citing office rules, said.

The South's Yonhap news agency said Seoul had deployed missiles, artillery and other weapons systems near the border to swiftly deal with any possible North Korean provocation. The ministry did not confirm the report.

Officials say broadcasts from the South's loudspeakers can travel about 10 kilometres (6 miles) during the night and 24 kilometres (15 miles) at night. That reaches many of the huge force of North Korean soldiers stationed near the border and also residents in border towns such as Kaesong, where the Koreas jointly operate an industrial park that has been a valuable cash source for the impoverished North.

Seoul also planned to use mobile speakers to broadcast from a small South Korean island just a few kilometres (miles) from North Korean shores.

While the South's broadcasts also include news and pop music, much of the programming challenges North Korea's government more directly.

'We hope that our fellow Koreans in the North will be able to live in (a) society that doesn't invade individual lives as soon as possible," a female presenter said in parts of the broadcast that officials revealed to South Korean media. "Countries run by dictatorships even try to control human instincts."

Marathon talks by the Koreas in August eased anger and stopped the broadcasts, which Seoul started after blaming North Korean land mines for maiming two soldiers. It might be more difficult to do so now. Seoul can't stand down easily, some analysts say, and it's highly unlikely that the North will express regret for its nuclear test, which is a source of intense national pride.

Responding to the bomb test, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged China, the North's only major ally and biggest aid provider, to end "business as usual" with North Korea.

Diplomats at a U.N. Security Council emergency session pledged to swiftly pursue new sanctions. For current sanctions and any new penalties to work, better co-operation and stronger implementation from China is seen as key.

South Korean and U.S. militaries also discussed the deployment of U.S. "strategic assets," Seoul's Defence Ministry said. Officials refused to elaborate, but the assets will likely include B-52 bombers, F-22 stealth fighters and nuclear-powered submarines.

After North Korea's third nuclear test in 2013, the U.S. took the unusual step of sending its most powerful warplanes to drills with South Korea in a show of force. B-2 and B-52 bombers are capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

It may take weeks or longer to confirm or refute the North's claim that it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, which would mark a major and unanticipated advance for its still-limited nuclear arsenal. Outside experts are skeptical the blast was a hydrogen bomb, but even a test of an atomic bomb would push North Korea closer to building a nuclear warhead small enough to place on a long-range missile.

The Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety said a small amount of radioactive elements was found in air samples collected from the peninsula's eastern seas after the blast, but the measured amount was too small to determine whether the North had really detonated a nuclear device. The institute will continue to collect and analyze more samples.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Strong winds, thunderstorms kill 11 in Moscow

    World News CBC News
    Thunderstorms and strong winds buffeted Moscow and its surrounding areas on Monday, killing 11 people and injuring dozens, Russian officials said. The city's health department said about 50 others, including children, were injured. Yulia Ivanova, a spokeswoman for Moscow's branch of the Investigative Committee, had earlier reported six deaths, including five people killed Monday by falling trees and one person who died after being hit by bus stop debris torn off by high winds. Source
  • Police, air ambulance called as English zoo is evacuated

    World News CTV News
    LONDON - Visitors at an English zoo have been evacuated after police and an air ambulance were called to deal with an incident. Cambridgeshire Police said Monday the force responded to a call indicating that a "serious incident" was in progress at Hamerton Zoo, 130 kilometres north of London. Source
  • Accused in Quebec City mosque shooting case yet to receive all the evidence

    Canada News CTV News
    A judge hearing arguments in the case of the accused Quebec City mosque shooter is expressing concern about delays due to incomplete evidence disclosed by the Crown. Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, is facing six counts of first-degree murder and five of attempted murder using a restricted firearm after six men were shot dead in a mosque on Jan. Source
  • Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charge

    World News CBC News
    Golf star Tiger Woods has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Jupiter, Fla. The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office provided this image of Tiger Woods on Monday after his arrest. Source
  • In Syria, more airstrikes hit ISIS de facto capital of Raqqa

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT -- More airstrikes and artillery shelling on Monday hit the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State group, as U.S.-backed fighters pushed closer to the extremists' stronghold, activists said. Source
  • Federal government creates famine relief fund

    World News CBC News
    The federal government will match donations made by Canadians to registered charities to create a famine relief fund, International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced Monday. The fund will support Canadian and international organizations working to provide assistance in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen and neighbouring regions, Bibeau said outside the House of Commons, noting the government's window to match donations is from March 17 to June 30. Source
  • New Brunswick anti-abortion group banned from protesting on hospital grounds

    Canada News CTV News
    BATHURST, N.B. -- A New Brunswick judge has banned an anti-abortion group from demonstrating outside a hospital in northern New Brunswick. Court of Queen's Bench Judge Reginald Leger granted a permanent injunction against the protesters earlier this month, citing safety concerns outside the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst. Source
  • Philippine forces fight to retake city besieged by ISIS linked terrorists [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    MARAWI, Philippines — Philippine forces control most of a southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege nearly a week ago, authorities said Monday, as the army launched airstrikes and went house-to-house to crush areas of resistance. Source
  • Woman plans to trek 15,000 km for Canada's 150th [Video]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    TORONTO - Melanie Vogel may already feel like a Canadian, but she still wants to walk 15,000 kilometers across the landscape on a personal mission for the nation’s 150th anniversary. Vogel, who permanently moved to Canada in 2008 from Dresden, Germany, is gearing up for the monstrous cross-Canada journey on May 31, departing from St. Source
  • Artist depicts world leaders as desperate migrants

    World News CTV News
    A Syrian artist is highlighting the plight of his people with a series of striking paintings that cast some of the world’s most powerful leaders as powerless refugees. The paintings depict such figures as U.S. Source