State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on Monday that the U.S. government does not recognize North Korea as a nuclear weapons state.
Gen. James Thurman, commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, told ABC News that the situation on the divided peninsula was as “volatile” and “dangerous” as he has seen in two years as commander.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday that it has adopted new contingency plans called “active deterrence” that would permit the military to carry out preemptive attacks against the North in the face of an imminent nuclear or missile strike.
One sign that relations had not reached a tipping point toward conflict despite the growing tensions on the peninsula is the fact that the North-South special economic zone at Kaesong remains open with South Korean workers traveling to the zone without disruption.
South Korea’s Daily NK newspaper, known for contacts inside North Korea, reported on Tuesday that a source in the country said orders for the entire country to go to a war footing were issued March 26, but only two days of lectures, rallies, and meetings for soldiers and civilians were held.
The North Korean government since then appears to have backed off the war preparations.
“They had the PSM (People’s Safety Ministry; the North Korean police force), people’s unit heads, and NSA (National Security Agency) all out there in meetings telling people they needed to stay vigilant, but people responded indifferently,” the source told the newspaper. “It was because the measures had been going on for months; nobody had any further interest in them.”