S. Korea - US drill kicks off as tensions with North escalate
SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean and US troops launched a joint military exercise Monday, prompting an infuriated North Korea, which has threatened both countries with nuclear attack, to sever a hotline with Seoul.
The start of the two-week "Key Resolve" exercise follows a week of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, with North Korea lashing out over tightened UN sanctions adopted after its third nuclear test last month.
Pyongyang has condemned the joint manoeuvres as a provocative invasion rehearsal and announced that - effective Monday - it was scrapping the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War and voiding peace pacts signed with the South.
The South's Unification Ministry confirmed that the North appeared to have carried through on another promise to cut the hotline between Pyongyang and Seoul.