Fears that World War Three could break out as early as this weekend were triggered Friday by reports that North Korea leader Kim Jong-un has ordered a massive evacuation of the country’s capital city, Pyongyang, allegedly moving up to 600,000 people out of the city. That would be nearly 25 percent of the city’s 2.5 million residents.
The evacuation order, first reported by Russian media but as yet unconfirmed by Western press outlets, follows a reported threat from the Donald Trump administration warning that the United States would launch a massive military strike against North Korea if the country goes ahead with a possible nuclear weapons test. The anticipated weapons test would be timed to mark the 105th birthday of North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Il Sung, who ruled the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — as North Korea is officially named — from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994.
Kim Il Sung is the grandfather of current North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un, 42.
A journalist for Channel News Asia noted a massive procession of vehicles rolling through Pyongyang early Friday morning, but assumed that the vehicles were related to a military parade as part of the Kim Il Sung birthday celebration rather than an evacuation.
— Jeremy Koh (@JeremyKohCNA) April 14, 2017
But according to the Russian newspaper Pravda, Kim is, in fact, readying for war — which could ensue if Kim goes ahead with the nuclear missile test in conjunction with his grandfather’s birthday.
“In accordance with the order, 600,000 people should be urgently evacuated,” Pravda reported. “Experts note that the evacuation will most likely be conducted due to extremely strained tensions in relations with the United States of America. Reportedly, Pyongyang’s bomb shelters will not be able to accommodate the entire population of the North Korean capital. Therefore, 600,000 people — mostly individuals with criminal records — will have to leave Pyongyang to let others use bomb shelters.”
The following video which appeared Thursday on YouTube purports to show the moment that the Pyongyang evacuation was ordered. The sirens audible in the video are said to be alerting residents to leave their homes. But those claims have not been independently confirmed.
The North Korean government alerted foreign journalists on Wednesday that “a big, important event” would take place over the weekend, though the news agency Reuters noted that similar announcements have emanated from the Kim Jong-un regime in the past and have amounted to little if anything.
But the New York Times reported Wednesday that satellite imagery of North Korea showed evidence that the country was preparing what would be its sixth test of a nuclear weapon near Mount Mantap, a one-mile-high peak which has served as the site of previous North Korean nuclear test detonations.
Earlier in the week, Trump ordered a fleet of U.S. warships, including aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, to the Korean peninsula.
On Friday, NBC News reported that U.S. officials warned of an American “preemptive” strike against North Korea, which would go ahead rather than let a nuclear test take place.
The strike would not involve nuclear weapons, the NBC report claimed, but could involve ship-fired missiles, bombs dropped from the air, and even U.S. special operations troops on the ground inside North Korea.
Meanwhile, as the World War Three fears continued to rise, with even the United States reportedly raising the DefCon nuclear threat warning system to Level Four, Trump himself took to the golf links at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
[Featured Image by Wong Maye-E/AP Images]