Cutting off the hotline is the latest move by the North as it’s ramped up its rhetoric against South Korea and the United States. Pyongyang had threatened to attack the U.S. with a nuclear weapon and said the armistice agreement with the South is no longer valid. On Monday, North Korea said it had put its forces on “full alert.”
In response to the threats, U.S. forces have flown B-52 heavy bombers in the skies above South Korea as part of military training exercises, planes that are capable of carrying nuclear and non-nuclear weapons. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also has ordered the Pentagon to add 14 ground-based missile interceptors in Alaska.
The military hotline that North Korea cut off on Wednesday is used primarily to coordinate operations at an industrial complex that’s jointly operated in Kaesong, a North Korean border town.
The move had not affected movement of people or vehicles on Wednesday, however, according to South Korea’s Yonhap. The North Koreans had also cut off communication on the hotline in 2009 and operations in Kaesong had continued.