PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea on Tuesday urged all foreign companies and tourists in South Korea to evacuate, saying the two countries are on the verge of a nuclear war. The new threat appeared to be an attempt to scare foreigners into pressing their governments to pressure Washington and Seoul to act to avert a conflict.
Analysts see a direct attack on Seoul as extremely unlikely, and there are no overt signs that North Korea's army is readying for war, let alone a nuclear one.
In Pyongyang, there were no signs of a military buildup. Scores of people were armed on a cold spring day with shovels, not guns, and were busy planting trees as part of a forestation campaign. The national flag fluttered across the city as North Korea marked the 20th anniversary of late leader Kim Jong Il's appointment as chairman of the National Defense Commission, and workers began preparing the city for the April 15 birthday of late President Kim Il Sung's birthday.
South Korea's military has reported missile movements on North Korea's east coast, but nothing pointed toward South Korea.
"The situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to a thermonuclear war due to the evermore undisguised hostile actions of the United States and the South Korean puppet warmongers and their moves for a war against" the North, said a statement by the North Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, an organization that deals with regional matters.
The statement is similar to past threats that analysts call an attempt to raise anxiety in foreign capitals.
Analysts see the threats of war as a bid to win Pyongyang-friendly policy changes in Seoul and Washington. Last week, North Korea told foreign diplomats in Pyongyang that it will not be able to guarantee their safety starting Wednesday. It is not clear what significance that date holds.