North Korea advises diplomats to leave

2013-04-06 08:15
North Korea flag (Picture: <a href=\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\http://www.shutterstock.com\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\>Shutterstock</a>)

North Korea flag (Picture: Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - Foreign diplomats in Pyongyang huddled on Saturday to discuss a North Korean evacuation advisory as concerns grew that the isolated state was preparing a missile launch at a time of soaring nuclear tensions.

The heads of all EU missions had agreed to meet to hammer out a common position after Pyongyang warned embassies it would be unable to guarantee their safety if a conflict broke out and that they should consider leaving.

Most of their governments made it clear they had no plans to withdraw any personnel, and some suggested the advisory was a ruse to fuel growing global anxiety over the current crisis on the Korean peninsula.

"We believe they have taken this step as part of their country's rhetoric that the US poses a threat to them," a British Foreign Office spokesperson said in London.

Missiles

The embassy warning coincided with reports that North Korea had loaded two intermediate-range missiles on mobile launchers and hidden them in underground facilities near its east coast.

"The North is apparently intent on firing the missiles without prior warning," the South's Yonhap news agency quoted a senior government official as saying.

They were reported to be Musudan missiles, which have never been tested, but are believed to have a range of around 3 000km, which could theoretically be pushed to 4 000km with a light payload.

That would cover any target in South Korea and Japan, and possibly even reach US military bases located on the Pacific island of Guam.

The White House said on Friday it "would not be surprised" by a missile test.

"We have seen them launch missiles in the past.... And it would fit their current pattern of bellicose, unhelpful and unconstructive rhetoric and actions," White House spokesperson Jay Carney said.

'Provocative act'

The Pentagon warned any such test would be "a provocative act", with spokesperson George Little urging Pyongyang to "follow international norms and abide by their commitments".

North Korea, incensed by UN sanctions and South Korea-US military drills, has issued a series of apocalyptic threats of nuclear war in recent weeks.

The North has no proven inter-continental ballistic missile capability that would enable it to strike more distant US targets, and many experts say it is unlikely it can even mount a nuclear warhead on a mid-range missile.

Nevertheless, the international community is becoming increasingly skittish that, with tensions showing no sign of de-escalating, there is a real risk of the situation spiralling out of control.

The latest expression of concern came from Communist icon Fidel Castro, who warned the danger of a nuclear conflict erupting was higher than it had been at any time since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

If war broke out on the Korean peninsula, "there would be a terrible slaughter of people", Castro wrote in a front-page article in Granma, the Cuban Communist Party's newspaper.

UN won't withdraw

The United Nations said it had no plans to pull staff out after the North Korean warning message to embassies and NGOs in Pyongyang.

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky said UN chief Ban Ki-moon was "studying the message," and added that UN staff "remain engaged in their humanitarian and developmental work" throughout North Korea.

According to the British Foreign office, embassies and organisations were told to inform the Pyongyang authorities by 10 April what assistance they would require should they wish to evacuate.

"Our understanding is that the North Koreans were asking whether embassies are intending to leave, rather than advising them to leave," the spokesperson said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was consulting with China over the warning, as well as the United States and other members of the stalled six-party talks on North Korea.

In South Korea, a Navy official told Yonhap that two Aegis destroyers with advance radar systems had been deployed - one off the east coast and one off the west coast - to track any missile launch.

North Korea refused on Saturday to lift a ban on South Koreans accessing their companies in a joint industrial zone on the North side of the border.

Entry to the Seoul-funded Kaesong complex has been barred since Wednesday.

Read more on:    north korea  |  north korea nuclear programme

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
33 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.