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Is North Korea Preparing for War?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

North Korea: The party daily Rodong Sinmun reported the Armistice is invalid as of 11 March.

It also reported the North has placed its strategic missiles and multiple rocket launcher systems on standby to go to war and the entire population has become soldiers.

It reported all government and party organizations and agricultural cooperatives have been placed on emergency mobilization status and the Red Worker-Peasant Militia and the Young Red Guards have been ordered to man their numerous posts.

The Daily NK carried reports of civil defense preparations from its sources inside North Korea. "Province, municipal and county administrations have been moved underground and civilian exercises are being held daily, so tensions are at a high right now. There are some people selling possessions to buy rice and other emergency foods."

"…Military and civilian rallies and ongoing defense evacuation drills are hindering market activities, forcing up food prices and making it more difficult to secure supplies. The price of rice has risen by 500 won/kg since last week….People are just praying that they won't close the markets down, even if a war were to break out.

Comment: The activities reported in the Daily NK indicate North Korea has raised national readiness to a semi-war level, one level below full combat readiness. Underground living for key leaders and evacuation rehearsals are two key civilian precautions that occur at this state of readiness. Underground living and actual evacuation by the general population would by key signs of full combat readiness, the highest alert level.

South Korean media reported that South Korean managers still crossed the Demilitarized Zone to work in the joint industrial complex at Kaesong. The North has not closed the joint factories. It has not closed the borders.

North Korea-US: For the record. The US Treasury Department on Monday imposed sanctions on North Korea's primary foreign exchange bank, the Foreign Trade Bank of North Korea. This bank is key to financing arms sales.

Pakistan: Authorities reported that on Saturday a Muslim mob of "thousands" burned about 200 Christian dwellings and 2 churches in Lahore, the capital of Punjab Province and the second largest city in Pakistan. A call for emergency assistance was placed at 0900 local time, but the firefighters arrived at 1500, the newspapers reported.

The rioting ostensibly was sparked when a Muslim barber accused a Christian sanitation worker of blasphemy against Mohammed. The men supposedly were friends, but were drunk on Friday night The next morning the mob formed and burned the Christian community. More than one Pakistani newspaper reported the charge was false and the men had a falling out of money.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has taken official notice of the incident, and hearings are underway investigating the inaction of the administration. The government announced $2,000 in compensation for each family whose possessions and dwelling were destroyed.

Comment: Pakistanis are not generally this intolerant, but hotheads and zealots use religion to vent other grievances. The criminal blasphemy law encourages settling scores in this fashion.

Erratum: Several Readers pointed out that the Spanish demonstrations occurred on 10 March, vice 20 March. Thanks for the careful read.

End of NightWatch ###

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