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North Korea Threatens To Nullify Armistice; What Did That 1953 Pact Say?

Mar 5, 2013

While diplomats move ahead at the United Nations on a package of new sanctions aimed at North Korea in another effort to convince that Stalinist state to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, there's also this news:

North Korea is threatening to nullify the 1953 armistice accord that brought an end to open warfare on the Korean peninsula. The North professes to be angry about the additional sanctions and about joint U.S.-South Korean military drills that are now underway. It isn't addressing whether its nuclear tests or other provocative acts (such as shelling island occupied by the South) violate the spirit, if not the letter, of a ceasefire.

Hearing all that sent us in search of the 1953 agreement's text. OurDocuments.gov has it posted here. The preamble speaks of the great "suffering and bloodshed on both sides" that needed to end:

"The undersigned, the Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command, on the one hand, and the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army and the Commander of the Chinese People's Volunteers, on the other hand, in the interest of stopping the Korean conflict, with its great toil of suffering and bloodshed on both sides, and with the objective of establishing an armistice which will insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved, do individually, collectively, and mutually agree to accept and to be bound and governed by the conditions and terms of armistice set forth in the following articles and paragraphs, which said conditions and terms are intended to be purely military in character and to pertain solely to the belligerents in Korea"

Toward the end of the nearly 8,000-word pact are these "Recommendations to the Governments Concerned on Both Sides":

"In order to insure the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, the military Commanders of both sides hereby recommend to the governments of the countries concerned on both sides that, within three (3) months after the Armistice Agreement is signed and becomes effective, a political conference of a higher level of both sides be held by representatives appointed respectively to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, etc."

The armistice was signed on July 27, 1953. Kim Il Sung was North Korea's leader. His grandson, Kim Jong Un, holds that post today. The "Korean question" remains unsettled.

The good news, as The Atlantic Wire says, is it's "hard to imagine that the shooting will start again soon." But, it adds, "there's no doubt that the rhetoric has never been harsher."

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