North Korea’s war rhetoric continues with a warning to foreigners to leave South Korea to avoid being caught up in any conflict. Last week Pyongyang advised foreign embassies to make ready to evacuate the South.
North Korean state media aired the warning in its evening news broadcast: “North Korea does not want to see foreigners fall victim to the war. The committee informs all foreign institutions to take measures for their safety,” read the newscaster.
The latest bellicose announcement comes 24 hours after North Korea banned workers from the Kaesong industrial complex the last major symbol of cooperation between North and South.
In Japan Prime Minister Shinto Abe insisted countries under threat from the North are cooperating with one another:
“North Korea has made repeated provocative remarks. We will do whatever is necessary while calmly working with relevant countries. We will do our best to protect the lives and safety of the Japanese people,” he said.
Japan has deployed Patriot missile batteries around Tokyo ahead of any potential strike by Pyongyang and the Japanese military have orders to intercept any incoming threat from North Korea.
Estimate of North Korea’s military power
- Around 1,000 missiles of various types: Rodong-1 (est. reach 1,300 km), Taepodong-1 (2,500 km) successfully tested; Musudan-1 (3,000 km+) never publicly tested; Taepondong-2 (6,700 km+) one failed test
- Its ballistic capacity allows North Korea to equip its missiles with conventional and chemical warheads. It is not believed Pyongyang yet has a miniaturised nuclear warhead that it can attach to these missiles
- The country has at least three nuclear sites and has conducted three nuclear tests (2006, 2009, March 2013). The regime is thought to possess enough plutonium for at least six nuclear bombs (although until miniaturised these would remain undeliverable)
- Chemical weapons: anthrax, mustard gas, sarin, phosgene… (estimated quantity between 2500 and 5000 tons). Its bacteriological weapons program is under development although its stage of advancement remains uncertain
- 13,500 tons of artillery, 70 submarines, 420 warships and 820 warplanes
- Ground troops: an estimated 1.2 million soldiers with another seven million in reserve