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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Diplomats in North Korea Stay Put Despite Warning

by VOA News April 06, 2013

Foreign diplomats stationed in North Korea appeared to be staying put at their embassies in Pyongyang Saturday, despite the government's public suggestion that they should leave the capital for security reasons.

Reports received in Western capitals from foreign embassies in Pyongyang indicate diplomats are disregarding the warning to leave, and that most foreigners saw the warning message North Korea circulated Friday as a gesture intended to heighten tensions on the Korean peninsula.

​​North Korea had told embassies and international groups it could only guarantee their safety until April 10 in the event of open hostilities.

Russia and Britain said Friday they had no plans to evacuate embassy staff.

Meanwhile, more South Koreans who work at an industrial complex inside North Korea - a commercial project that both Seoul and Pyongyang have supported for years - return across the border to the South Saturday, several days after Pyongyang said it would block South Korean access to the facility. Up to 500 South Koreans are believed to still be at the Kaesong industrial complex, which is believed to be the main source of hard-currency income for Pyongyang.

North Korea has threatened military action against both the United States and South Korea in recent weeks, unless the outside world stops pressuring North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program. North Korea has claimed it has the capability of launching nuclear weapons. Although the reclusive government in the north has made advances in nuclear weapons technology, most military and diplomatic experts doubt that Pyongyang has the ability to launch such attacks far beyond its borders.

Reliable reports in the region indicate that Pyongyang has deployed two intermediate-range missiles on mobile launchers near the country's east coast, and U.S. defense officials tell VOA they have been preparing for another North Korean missile launch in the coming days.

North Korea will mark the birth centenary of its 'founding father,' Kim Il Sung, on April 15 with pomp and ceremony and displays of its military strength. Kim Il Sung led the communist country from 1948 until his death in 1994. His grandson, Kim Jong Un, currently holds power in Pyongyang.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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