The South Korean Defense Ministry has also raised its Watch Condition, or Watchcon, to the second-highest level from Watchcon 3 to Watchcon 2. 28,000 U.S. soldiers are based in South Korea.
After Monday’s test, South Korea agreed to take part in an American-led operation to search boats traveling in the area for unconventional weapons.
This prompted North Korea to angrily threaten a “powerful military strike” if any North Korean ships were stopped or searched. North Korea also declared it was “no longer bound” by the 1953 Armistice treaty which ended hostilities in The Korean War and officially withdrew from it. North and South Korea have technically been at war since then because no official peace treaty had ever been signed.
The North Korean government’s official newspaper, Minju Joseon, followed up on this threat Thursday, warning that “even a minor accidental clash could lead to nuclear war.”
“It’s a matter of time when a fuse for war is triggered,” the commentary read.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned North Korea that it will face consequences because of its “provocative and belligerent” action, and underscored American commitment to defend South Korea and Japan. She said that talks at the United Nations “are going on to add to the consequences that North Korea will face.”
Russia announced Wednesday it was taking security measures along its far eastern regions which border North Korea, in anticipation that the escalating conflict could go nuclear.
South Korean news is reporting that its military has moved or planned to move warships and artillery to islands near the western sea border with North Korea. The South Korean Defense Ministry declined to comment on the reports.