SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea's military warned Wednesday that it would respond to any attack from North Korea with "strong and stern measures" against Pyongyang's top leadership, in a particularly vivid threat coming after the North vowed to nullify an armistice agreement ending the Korean War.
The threats could prove to be mere bluster, analysts said. But the rhetoric sets up a tense period as the U.S. and South Korean militaries carry out joint training drills that the North considers a "dangerous nuclear war" maneuver, and with the U.N. Security Council deliberating new sanctions to limit Pyongyang's weapons program.
The North said Tuesday it will "completely declare invalid" the armistice on March 11, the day the joint drills enter the "full-dress stage." The United States and South Korea began a two-month series of war exercises Friday, but more start Monday.
The joint drills are an annual event, as are the North's denunciations of them. But the South's rare warning highlights how leaders here are on guard over their militant neighbor, which is emboldened by improving nuclear and missile programs, guided by a relatively unknown leader and prevented from backing down because of its own posturing.