WASHINGTON D.C. – North Korea has urged foreign embassies in Pyongyang to consider evacuating the country if tensions continue to spiral with the U.S. and South Korea.
Russian News agencies broke the story several hours ago following a statement made by the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang today.
“A representative of the North Korean foreign ministry suggested that the Russian side examine the question of evacuating the employees of the Russian embassy,” embassy spokesman Denis Samsonov said.
“We are currently in the process of taking the decision,” Samsonov added, who also reported that the current situation in Pyongyang was nevertheless “absolutely peaceful”.
A spokesman from the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) confirmed embassies other than Russia had received the same warning. “We can confirm that the British Embassy in Pyongyang received a communication from the North Korean government this morning.”
“[The warning] said that the North Korean government would be unable to guarantee the safety of embassies and international organisations in the country in the event of conflict from April 10.”
The British spokesman added that London was now considering next steps. However, the FCO’s travel warning page for North Korea remained unchanged by the development, which said “that there is currently no immediate increased risk or danger to those living in or travelling to the DPRK”.
#2 of a 3 STAGE PROCESS LEADING TO ‘TERRORIST ATTACKS’?
The latest escalation comes after comments made by an anonymous source at South Korea’s JoongAng ilbo, one month ago, that suggest the embassy warning could be a final step before a terrorist attack orchestrated by Pyongyang.
In a report about an assassination attempt on Kim Jong Un, the JoongAng Ilbo source warned that the North Korean leader had “secretly ordered that a three-stage scenario be drawn up to really heighten fear of nuclear war.”
The first stage is issuing war threats against the South and spreading the idea that a war is imminent, the source said.
The second stage is reportedly forcing foreigners in the North to leave the country, warning that their personal safety cannot be guaranteed in time of war. The North would also inform foreign diplomatic missions in Pyongyang to pull out their citizens.
The third step will be a terrorist attack on a public installation in the South such as an airport, or an armed attack like the sinking of the Cheonan, the source said.
The same source warned that while Kim Jong Un “doesn’t really want a war”, he wants to solve domestic discontent, “by heightening the sense of crisis and find a way to get sanctions like South Korea’s May 24 sanctions removed”.
Meanwhile, today the South Korean navy dispatched two Aegis class destroyers to coasts near North Korea. The ships, equipped with advanced radar systems, are being readied in anticipation of a possible North Korean medium range missile launch in coming days.
North Korea recently transported medium range missiles to its Eastern coast amid ratcheting inter-Korean tensions. A Yonhap report today suggested the missiles had safely arrived and been loaded onto road-mobile launching platforms and subsequently “hidden”.
Despite increasing tensions, South Korea today said that it would not yet be considering the withdrawal of its workers at the inter-Korean industrial complex at Kaesong. Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said, “For now, the conditions are not that serious, “therefore (the government) is not considering withdrawal.”
In recent weeks North Korea has said nuclear conflict could break out at any time on the Korean peninsula.
Inter-Korean relations are at a low point following weeks of recriminations between Seoul and Pyongyang. Relations spiraled out of control following UN condemnation of North Korea’s third nuclear test in February.
Thanks to Spelunker, who contributed to this report.