China seeks North Korea assurance, warns on 'troublemaking'
SEOUL - Agence France-Presse
South Korean soldiers patrol along a military fence near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas in the border city of Paju on April 5, 2013. AFP PhotoChina said it had asked North Korea to ensure the safety of its diplomats after a warning that missions should consider evacuating, and that it would not tolerate "troublemaking" on its doorstep.
North Korean authorities on Friday told embassies in Pyongyang that their safety could not be guaranteed if a conflict breaks out, after weeks of escalating threats against the United States and South Korea.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China "expresses grave concerns" about the growing tensions on the Korean peninsula but that the Chinese embassy was "operating normally".
"The Chinese government has already asked the North Korea side to earnestly ensure the safety of Chinese diplomats in North Korea, in accordance with the Vienna Convention and international laws and practices," he said in a statement on the foreign ministry website Sunday.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a phone conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that there were deep concerns over the situation on the Korean peninsula.
"We oppose provocative words and actions by any party in this region, and will not allow troublemaking on China's doorstep," he said in unusually sharp comments released by the ministry late Saturday.
Iran calls for calm in North Korea showdown
Iran's foreign ministry on Sunday urged against "provocative conduct" in the Korean peninsula, saying stability there has been compromised by an American military build-up, media reported.
"Our advice to all sides involved is to not stoke tensions by engaging in provocative conduct," ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in remarks reported by the Mehr news agency.
"The climate should not remain one of threats," he said.
Mehmanparast accused arch-foe United States of provoking the crisis.
"The military build-up and provocative acts... by a country situated thousands of kilometres (miles) away is destabilising this region," he said referring to the United States.
He said, "the actions of all sides could spin out of control and damage the whole region." Tensions in the peninsula have flared with Pyongyang issuing a series of apocalyptic threats of nuclear war and warning that the safety of foreign diplomats there could not be guaranteed after April 10 if a conflict broke out.
Top US commander in South Korea cancels trip to US
The top U.S. military commander in South Korea has canceled a trip to Washington to testify before Congress because of tensions with North Korea.
In an email Sunday to The Associated Press, Army Col. Amy Hannah says Gen. James Thurman will remain in Seoul next week as -- quote -- "a prudent measure."
Thurman has asked the Senate Armed Services Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense to excuse his absence until he can testify at a later date.
He was scheduled to testify on Tuesday and Wednesday.
South Korea also announced that its top military commander has put off a planned Washington visit because of the tensions.
The North has threatened to launch attacks on South Korea and the U.S.
US delays missile test to cool North Korea tensions
The US has delayed a ballistic missile test to avoid stoking tensions with North Korea, which has warned diplomats to consider evacuating from Pyongyang as a nuclear crisis brews on the Korean peninsula.
The Pentagon's disclosure that it would reschedule the intercontinental missile test due in California next week comes as the international community grows increasingly nervous that the situation could spiral out of control.
A US defence official said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel postponed the Minuteman 3 test at Vandenberg Air Force Base until next month due to concerns it "might be misconstrued by some as suggesting that we were intending to exacerbate the current crisis with North Korea." "We wanted to avoid that misperception or manipulation," the US official told AFP. "We are committed to testing our ICBMs to ensure a safe, secure, effective nuclear arsenal." North Korea, incensed by UN sanctions and South Korea-US military drills, has issued a series of apocalyptic threats of nuclear war in recent weeks.
It has also reportedly loaded two intermediate-range missiles on mobile launchers and hidden them in underground facilities near its east coast, raising the spectre it is preparing for a provocative launch.
Japan to order shooting down of North Korea missile: reports
Japan will order its armed forces to shoot down any North Korean missile headed towards its territory, press reports said Sunday as Pyongyang was reportedly readying to fire one.
The order may be issued by Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera on Sunday or "in a day or two," the Yomiuri newspaper and the Jiji news agency reported.
The order would not be made public so as not to alarm the public, the Kyodo news agency quoted government sources as saying.
Under the order, Aegis destroyers equipped with sea-based interceptor missiles would be deployed in the Sea of Japan so they could intercept a North Korean missile if it appeared likely to land in Japanese territory, Kyodo said.