North Korea warns foreign nationals to leave South Korea

2013-04-09 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) North Korea has told people in South Korea to prepare for nuclear war, saying "foreign nationals" should devise escape plans. A North Korean government committee said foreign nationals living in South Korea should examine ways of leaving the country. It said if they stay, they should find out where to take shelter.

The statement accused the United States of wanting to start a nuclear war, although Washington insists it has no plans to attack.

Observers in the region see the statement as part of ongoing efforts to increase tensions and so win aid and concessions. But neighbours are taking no chances. Japan's armed forces have deployed rocket interceptors at at least three sites in and around Tokyo, in case North Korea fires a missile at the city. One set of rockets has been seen outside the defence ministry.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government will do whatever it can to protect the lives and safety of Japanese citizens.

He accused North Korea of provoking the world, while South Korea's president told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday she would end the pattern of responding to North Korean tension with compromises and new economic aid.

Listen to this report by Alastair Wanklyn in Tokyo