The White House said Friday it "would not be surprised" if North Korea launches a missile soon as tensions escalate on the peninsula.
"It would fit their current pattern of bellicose, unhelpful and unconstructive rhetoric and actions," said White House press secretary Jay Carney. "We have seen them launch missiles in the past, and the United Nations Security Council has repeatedly condemned them as violations of the North's obligations under numerous Security Council resolutions."
The South Korean defense minister said Thursday North Korea had moved an intermediate-range missile to a launch site on its east coast, likely for some kind of test or show firing. Adding to the likelihood of a missile launch is the upcoming birthday of the North’s founder Kim Il-Sung, grandfather of the current ruler Kim Jong-Un, an event often marked by some kind of military demonstration.
The White House urged North Korea "to stop with the provocations and to focus instead on meeting their international obligations and feeding their own people."
"They are only making themselves more and more isolated from the rest of the world, as I've been saying all week, and undermining their stated goal of economic development," Mr. Carney said.
North Korea has advised some foreign embassies to evacuate their personnel prior to April 10. Mr. Carney said the Obama administration isn't evacuating any U.S. personnel from South Korea.
"We're taking all necessary precautions … and we will continue to do that," he said. "We're consulting closely with our allies in Tokyo and Seoul. We're working constructively with the Russians and the Chinese to try to get them, in particular the Chinese, to use their influence with the North Koreans to persuade them to change their behavior and to instead travel the path that will allow them to rejoin the community of nations, allow them to assist their own citizens, feed their own people and allow their economy to grow instead of atrophy."
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