According to a report in a South Korean newspaper, there are increasing signs that North Korea is preparing a nuclear test explosion. Such a move would exacerbate an already tense situation on the Korean Peninsula.
The report, published Monday in the JoongAng Ilbo daily paper, quoted an unnamed senior South Korean official, who said movement around an atomic test site is similar to movement that occurred before previous tests.
South Korea's Unification Minister, Ryoo Kihl-jae also addressed a paramilitary committee on Monday and informed them that there were indications that Pyongyang was preparing to conduct its fourth nuclear test. Ministry officials speaking anonymously relayed Ryoo's message to the media.
The last time North Korea conducted a nuclear test was in February. The move drew international condemnation and the United Nations issued increased sanctions against Pyongyang as a result.
Warning from Xi Jinping
"The international community should advocate the vision of comprehensive security and cooperative security, so as to turn the global village into a big stage for common development rather than an arena where gladiators fight each other," said Xi. "And no one should be allowed to throw the region, or even the whole world, into chaos for selfish gains."
He told the forum that Beijing would play a constructive role in lessening tensions over regional hotspots, adding that stability in Asia "now faces new challenges, as hot spot issues keep emerging and both traditional and non-traditional security threats exist."
Ambassadors stay put – for now
North Korea has steadily increased its threatening rhetoric against Washington and Seoul of late.
Most recently, North Korean authorities told foreign embassies that they could only vouch for their safety until April 10, adding to the speculation that North Korea is planning a missile launch.
On Saturday, though, diplomats from a number of European countries with embassies in Pyongyang said they had no immediate plans to evacuate staff.
"The security of the German embassy and its exposure to danger are continually being evaluated," a statement released by the German Foreign Ministry said. "For now, the embassy can continue working."
A ministry spokesman in Berlin told the Reuters news agency that the European diplomats were in close contact with each other to coordinate their actions.
mz/kms (AP, dpa)