North Korean authorities issued a warning this week to its civilian population to “stand by” for an emergency amid growing nuclear tensions with the United States, sources in the hermit kingdom said.
The Aug. 7 warning was delivered by email to high-ranking officials in the provinces and the Civil Defense Department two days after the adoption of new U.N. sanctions aimed at pressuring the Kim Jong Un regime to end its illicit weapons programs, sources said.
In an unusual move, a statement threatening possible military action against the U.S. was then carried on Aug. 8 in North Korea’s Rodong Sinmum newspaper and was delivered that same day by military helicopters to Chagang province, a source in the province bordering China told RFA’s Korean Service.
“These helicopters are never mobilized to distribute the Rodong Sinmum [Workers’ Newspaper] unless it carries Kim Jong Un’s new year’s address,” RFA’s source said, adding that even then a full day is usually required for distribution.
In Chagang, military vehicles picked up the newspapers in bulk from Samjiyon airport, south of Mt. Paekdu, and quickly delivered them to factories and firms across the province, the source said.
The speed of distribution suggests advance planning in anticipation of the U.N. vote on sanctions three days before, and followed the government order to high-ranking officials on Aug. 7 to prepare for an emergency, a source in neighboring Yangang province told RFA.
“The North Korean government gave orders on the 7th—the day before the government’s announcement was disclosed in public—to high-ranking officials in each city and province to stand by for an ‘emergency,’” the source said, also speaking on condition he not be named.
“The Central Committee [of the ruling Workers’ Party] constantly says that they will keep to their plan to develop missiles and nuclear weapons, and this is escalating a fear of war,” RFA’s source in Chagang said.
“If nuclear war breaks out with the U.S., no one will survive in this land,” the source said.
'Not ready for war'
“Wealthy people and people who live in the cities are more worried than others about Kim Jong Un’s nuclear provocations,” the source said.
“Frankly, we are not ready for a war, since we have concerns over supplies of food and munitions.”
“I don’t know what makes Kim Jong Un so confident,” he said.
North Korea warned on Thursday that its military will complete plans in mid-August to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near Guam, angering U.S. President Donald Trump.
The U.S. military is "locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely," Trump warned Pyongyang in return. "Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!"
Guam, a Pacific island that is a U.S. territory, posted emergency guidelines on Friday to help residents prepare for a potential nuclear attack from North Korea, Reuters news agency reported.
The Pentagon meanwhile said the U.S. and South Korea will proceed with a joint military exercise in 10 days.
Reported by Sunghui Moon for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Leejun Jin. Written in English by Richard Finney.