North Korea issued a new verbal warning in show of escalating tensions amid threats to attack the United States and South Korea, suggesting foreign embassies consider evacuating the capital city Pyongyang.
Thus far, Russia and the United Kingdom plan on staying put with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying, "We want to understand the reasons behind this offer. We were interested in finding out whether this was a decision taken by the North Korean leadership to evacuate embassies, or just an offer."
Reports out of Pyongyang call the mood calm, showing tourists sightseeing and dismissing the verbal warnings, further supporting the growing belief that North Korea is manufacturing a sense of crisis.
March 29, 2013, Pyongyang, North Korea: KIM JONG UN (seated), top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), signed an order putting rockets on standby after an urgent meeting with top generals. Kim Jong Un ratified a strike plan by the Strategic Rocket Force after U.S. B-2 stealth bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula during exercises. (Image: © KCNA/Xinhua/ZUMAPRESS.com)
However, South Korea reportedly deployed two warships with missile defense systems after the North reportedly moved a missile to its east coast.
On Wednesday, the United States confirmed it would deploy a missile-defense system to Guam -- a named North Korea target. The move followed the North's blocking of South Koreans at the border.
Yet, North Korea blames its defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions on annual military exercises by the U.S. and South Korean forces, claiming it's surrounded by a nuclear threat. According to the BBC:
But is North Korea serious?
Korea analyst Aidan Foster-Carter believes not: "What Pyongyang is daily threatening is a fantasy. If they did any of it, this would be suicidal."
However, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel does not intend to bet American security on the North's discretion over nuclear force.
"... As they have ratcheted up their bellicose, dangerous rhetoric, and some of the action they have taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger," Hagel said recently at the National Defense University.
Mucking up the works further, South Korea now seeks America's support to enrich uranium as a show of force to the North. Whether Washington will allow such a move remains to be seen. Talks with Seoul are planned to resume this month.
Does North Korea's threats of a nuclear attack concern you?
Erica Holloway is a contributing editor at BlogHer. Follow her @erica_holloway.
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