TASHKENT, April 5 (RIA Novosti) – North Korea has asked foreign embassies based in its capital, Pyongyang, to consider evacuating staff, as tensions continue to rise on the Korean Peninsula, Russia’s foreign minister said on Friday.
“The proposal was made to all the embassies in Pyongyang, and we are now trying to shed light on the situation,” Sergei Lavrov told journalists in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.
A Russian embassy spokesman told RIA Novosti that the proposal had been made in light of increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Lavrov also said Russia was in “close contact” with the United States, China, South Korea and Japan – participants in stalled talks in the North’s nuclear program – over the unexpected announcement, which comes shortly after the isolated north-east Asian country threatened to launch nuclear attacks on both the US mainland and American military bases in the region.
The North Korean threats came as US and South Korean forces carried out annual joint military drills, including near the maritime border between the two Koreas. The United States responded by deploying F-22 Raptor stealth fighters to the region.
Analysts say North Korea is unlikely to launch a full-scale attack on either US forces or South Korea, but concerns persist that rising tensions could spark hostilities.
Tensions began to rise on the Korean Peninsula after international sanctions were imposed on North Korea in response to a long-range rocket launch in December that world powers condemned as a ballistic missile test. North Korea responded by carrying out a third nuclear test in February, which was followed by more sanctions.
(Updates with additional background)