North Koreans attend a rally against the US and South Korea in Nampo.
North Koreans attend a rally against the US and South Korea in Nampo.

North Korea missile crisis now at 'vital threat' level: US

SOUTH Korean and US forces raised their alert status to "vital threat" before an expected North Korean missile test as the Pentagon warned a bellicose Pyongyang it was "skating very close to a dangerous line".

The North last week told foreign diplomats in Pyongyang they had until April 10 to consider evacuation, fuelling speculation of a launch between Wednesday and April 15 birthday celebrations for late founder Kim Il-Sung.

Any launch could coincide with visits by US Secretary of State John Kerry and NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who will both be in Seoul on Friday.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se told parliament the launch could take place "any time" and warned Pyongyang it risked triggering a fresh round of UN sanctions.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters Wednesday that the United States and its allies hoped Pyongyang would tone down its inflammatory language, but said that the American military was prepared for any possibility.

More on this story at nzherald.co.nz



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