April 9, 2013

Pyongyang has issued a warning urging foreign nationals to evacuate South Korea, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. The statement was followed by threats from North Korea of “thermonuclear” war on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea has warned all foreign nationals to prepare to evacuate the South in the event of conflict. “We do not wish harm on foreigners in South Korea should there be a war,” Reuters quoted KCNA news agency as saying, citing the spokesperson for its Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee.

Further,“all international organizations, businesses and tourists” were told to “work out measures for the evacuation.”

The statement was followed by renewed threats of “thermonuclear” war on the Korean Peninsula, AFP reported.

“The situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to a thermonuclear war,” Pyongyang’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee stated.

This marks the latest escalation in Pyongyang’s rhetoric.

The Russian Embassy in South Korea said that it has no plans to evacuate Russians from the country over Pyongyang’s warning.

“At this point we are working out our position on the issue. But our preliminary response has no signs of plans related to evacuation,” RIA Novosti quoted Russian diplomatic spokesperson Nikita Kharin as saying.

China later said that it does not want to see chaos on the Korean Peninsula and opposes further escalation, Reuters quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei as saying.

On Monday, a South Korean lawmaker Rep. Chung Moon-joon visiting the US said that nuclear support from Washington is needed to protect against North Korea’s continued aggression and unpredictability, and to keep its neighbor in check.

Chung Moon-joon suggested that South Korea needs nuclear weapons of its own – not just to intimidate Pyongyang, but also to send a strong message to China.

Recent tensions in the Korean Peninsula further escalated after North Korea announced that 51,000 workers would be recalled from a joint industrial Kaesong zone shared with the South, a major severing of economic ties between the countries.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye said that she was resolved to break North Korea’s “vicious cycle”of having their bad behavior rewarded with economic aid.

“How long are we going to repeat this vicious cycle where the North Koreans create tensions and we give them compromises and aid?” she said during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. “North Korea must stop its wrong behavior and make a right choice for the future of the Korean nation.”

Tensions escalated further on Tuesday when North Korean laborers did not show up for work at the Kaesong joint industrial zone in the morning, effectively suspending operations. Earlier, Pyongyang refused to allow South Korean workers to enter the area, located a few kilometers inside the North’s territory.

Pyongyang issued another warning last week advising embassies in North Korea to considerevacuating in the event of war. Currently, about two dozen countries have embassies in North Korea; most have said there are no immediate plans to withdraw personnel.

The aggressive rhetoric from North Korea has motivated neighboring Japan to deploy Patriot missiles batteries to protect the 36 million people who live in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Two Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) surface-to-air missile launchers have been stationed in the Japanese capital, reinforcing battery units on Okinawa and other Pacific islands, an official said Tuesday.

The weapons were authorized to shoot down any North Korean missile headed towards Japanese territory, Defense Minister Onodera Itsunori said on national television.

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