By Nina Glencross
North Korea has warned foreigners in South Korea to evacuate in the case of war.
The announcement comes amid growing concern that the North may launch a fourth nuclear missile test and is the latest step in the escalation of tension on the Korean peninsula.
On Tuesday, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that North Korea has completed preparations for a mid-range missile launch from its east coast.
Japan has already deployed defensive anti-missile batteries at three locations in Tokyo, in an preparation for an impending attack, to protect its 30 million residents.
Pyongyang has been making bellicose threats against South Korea, Japan and US bases in the region in recent weeks.
US-made Patriot anti-missile systems have been deployed at the defence ministry and two other military bases.
Yonhap quoted an unnamed senior military official as saying: “According to intelligence analysis of North Korea’s missile movements, it is believed to have completed preparations for a launch. Technically, it can fire off tomorrow.”
Last Friday, Pyongyang warned it would be unable to guarantee the safety of embassy staff in the event of a war.
But no foreign embassies immediately announced plans to evacuate, and the UK and Russian embassies have said they have no immediate plans to shut their embassies.
The United States, which has also been threatened by Pyongyang, has said there were no imminent signs of threats to American citizens.