North Korea Cuts Off Hotline To South Korea As Tensions Escalate

As North Korea cuts off a hotline to South Korea, international governing bodies are closely watching an escalating conflict in the area — and the Center For Strategic & International studies indicates “a military provocation of some form [is to be expected] within weeks.”

Seoul’s Unification Ministry reported that North Korea cut off the hotline, saying a call to Pyongyang at 9 AM Monday failed to go through. The line is used to facilitate communications between Seoul and Pyongyang amidst ongoing lack of diplomatic relations in the region, and on Sunday, international outlets reported that North Korean state media indicated an aggressive military stance in the wake of new sanctions on the country.

According to reports, North Korea cut off the hotline to South Korea shortly after the following message ran on state news:

“Our front-line military groups, the army, the navy and the air force, the anti-aircraft units and the strategic rocket units, who have entered the final all-out war stage, are awaiting the final order to strike.”

North Korea’s move to cut off the hotline to Seoul came after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution Friday expanding sanctions on Pyongyang following the country’s third nuclear test. It’s the fifth set of sanctions against North Korea since 2006:

“Since 2006, North Korea has launched long-range rockets, tested a variety of missiles and conducted three underground nuclear explosions, the most recent on Feb. 12. Through it all, Pyongyang has been undeterred by a raft of sanctions — both multilateral penalties from the United Nations and national sanctions from Washington, Tokyo and others — meant to punish the government and sidetrack its nuclear ambitions.”

North Korea cut off the hotline today, and Friday, South Korean president Park Geun-hye said at a Friday ceremony for South Korean military cadets that Seoul would “deal strongly with North Korea’s provocations.”