North Korea on Friday warned foreign embassies in Pyongyang that it was unable to guarantee their safety after April 10, adding that they should consider evacuating their missions amid soaring nuclear tensions.
European countries with embassies in Pyongyang, such as Britain and Russia, reported receiving a warning advisory, AFP reported, as an increasingly bellicose North Korea moved two mid-range missiles to its east coast.
"Their communication said that from April 10, the North Korean government would be unable to guarantee the safety of embassies and international organizations in the country in the event of conflict," a spokeswoman for Britain's Foreign Office said, according to AFP.
"Our understanding is that the North Koreans were asking whether embassies are intending to leave, rather than advising them to leave," she said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow, which has relatively close ties with Pyongyang, was consulting with China over the warning, as well as the United States and other members of the stalled six-party talks on North Korea.
There were "many factors" that needed clarification, Lavrov said.
Bulgaria's foreign ministry said the chief of all EU missions in Pyongyang had agreed to meet Saturday to discuss a common position.
North Korea, incensed by UN sanctions and South Korea-U.S. military drills, has issued a series of apocalyptic threats of nuclear war in recent weeks, and there has been growing international concern that the situation might spiral out of control.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon described the daily threats from Pyongyang as "really alarming and troubling", warning the situation could spiral out of control, and Germany summoned the North Korean ambassador to convey Berlin's "serious concern."
Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said he was flying to Seoul on Saturday and would "fully vet" contingency plans for ensuring the safety of 43,000 Filipino workers in South Korea.
The spike in tensions came as the South Korean Yonhap news agency, citing a top South Korean government official, said North Korea had loaded two mid-range Musudan missiles on mobile launchers and hidden them in underground facilities near its east coast.
"The North is apparently intent on firing the missiles without prior warning," the official said.
A Navy official told Yonhap that two South Korean Aegis destroyers with advance radar systems had been deployed -- one off the east coast and one off the west coast -- to track any missile launch.
The Musudan has never been tested, but is believed to have a range of around 1,860 miles, noted AFP.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that the barrage of rhetoric flying out of Pyongyang fitted a "regrettable but familiar" pattern of North Korean behavior.
"We're taking all the necessary precautions," Carney said, according to AFP.
On Thursday the North Korean army said it had received final approval for military action, possibly involving nuclear weapons, against the threat posed by U.S. B-52 and B-2 stealth bombers participating in joint military drills with South Korea.
There has been speculation that Pyongyang might schedule a missile launch to coincide with the birthday of the North's late founder Kim Il-Sung in mid-April.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)