North Korea scraps non-aggression pact with the South

THE FRAGILE peace in the Korean peninsula for nearly 60 years appears under threat as North Korea scrapped all non-aggression pacts with the South, declaring it was ready for "all-out war".

In some of the most devastating rhetoric to come from the North in decades, North Korea said it would nullify the armistice signed at the end of the Korean War in 1953 and terminate its hotline with Seoul.

The blistering reaction to United Nations sanctions punishing Pyongyang for its third nuclear test last month prompted a rare call from China, the North's only ally, for calm.

Hua Chunying of China's foreign ministry said, "China calls on the relevant parties to be calm and exercise restraint and avoid taking any further action that would cause any further escalations."

Analysts suggest North Korean leaders are hoping grandiose threats will force the US and South Korea to back off from military exercises and bring about negotiations that would result in still more concessions from the United Nations.