Posted at: 04/09/2013 10:11 AM
Updated at: 04/09/2013 4:20 PM
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - There's been no sense of panic today in North Korea's capital, despite the warning from the government there that it's on the verge of a nuclear war with South Korea.
The North today urged foreign companies and tourists in South Korea to leave. The warning is being seen as an attempt to scare foreigners into pressing their own governments to push for action from the U.S. and South Korea to avert a conflict.
The scene in Pyongyang isn't reflecting the ominous warning. North Korea today has been marking the 20th anniversary of the late leader Kim Jong Il's appointment as chairman of the National Defense Commission. Women in traditional Korean dresses have been dancing in plazas across the country to celebrate.
The White House is calling the warning "more unhelpful rhetoric."
North Korea has been girding for a showdown with the U.S. and South Korea for months. North Korea's leader last week declared the pursuit of nuclear weapons to be a national goal. And the North said it would restart a nuclear complex that had been mothballed. The commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Samuel Locklear, told a Senate panel today that he agrees with assessments that the tension between North Korea and the West is the worst since the end of the Korean War.
Admiral says North Korea is direct threat to US
The top U.S. military commander in the Pacific says North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles represents a clear and direct threat to the United States and its allies in the region.
Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, tells a Senate committee Tuesday that Kim Jong Un, the country's young and still relatively untested new leader, has used the past year to consolidate his power.
Locklear says North Korea is keeping a large percentage of its combat forces along the demilitarized zone with South Korea, a position that allows North Korea to threaten U.S. and South Korean civilian and military personnel. Locker also tells the committee that this situation creates an environment marked by the potential for miscalculation.
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