Over the weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping was quoted as saying that no nation "should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain." While he didn't mention North Korea, the comments were seen as a reference to Pyongyang.
"There no benefit to the Chinese of having this type of activity occurring on their borders, no possible benefit that I can see from this. So they will, I believe, in time, work this problem to their national interest just like we do and the South Koreans do," Locklear said.
The saber rattling is making an impact, poll says
Meanwhile, the storm of warlike words coming from Pyongyang appears to have rattled Americans, with more than four in 10 saying they see the reclusive nation as an immediate threat to the United States, a new CNN/ORC International poll shows.
That's up 13 percentage points in less than a month, CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.
"If North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wanted to get the attention of the American public, his strategy is starting to work," Holland said.
North Korea's unnerving message advising foreigners to secure shelter or evacuate in case of hostilities came as Japan set up missile defenses in Tokyo and North Korean workers failed to turn up for work in the industrial complex jointly operated by North and South Korea.
In the statement published by state-run media Tuesday, the North's Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee reiterated accusations that Washington and Seoul are seeking to provoke a war with Pyongyang.
"Once a war is ignited on the peninsula, it will be an all-out war," the committee said, adding that North Korea doesn't want foreigners in South Korea to "fall victim" to a conflict.
But staff at the British Embassy in Seoul appeared unimpressed.
"We are not commenting on the specifics of every piece of rhetoric from North Korea," said Colin Gray, head of media affairs at the embassy. "Our travel advice remains unchanged. At this moment, we see no immediate threat to British citizens in South Korea."
And foreign visitors in Seoul didn't appear to be panicking Tuesday.
"I am concerned, but not enough not to make the trip," said Vicky Polashock, who was visiting from Atlanta.
Threat after threat
North Korea has unleashed a torrent of dramatic threats against the United States and South Korea in recent weeks, including that of a possible nuclear strike. But many analysts have cautioned that much of what Kim's regime is saying is bluster, noting that it is believed to still be years away from developing an operational nuclear missile.
A more likely scenario, they say, is a localized provocative move.
Amid the fiery words from Pyongyang and annual military training exercises by U.S. and South Korean forces in the region, government officials in Washington and Seoul say they are taking the North Korean threat seriously.
In the days before North Korea's latest round of threats and provocations, U.S. and North Korean officials met in New York, although nothing came of the meeting, said a source familiar with what happened.
The source described the meeting as part of regular back channel exchanges between the countries.
Clifford Hart, the U.S. envoy for six-party talks aimed at North Korean denuclearization, met with North Korea's Deputy UN Ambassador Han Song-ryol in mid-March, according to the source.
Hart repeated the Obama administration's call for North Korea to avoid provocative actions and urged a return to diplomacy. Han promised to carry the messages back to Pyongyang, the source said.
The North was blamed for two attacks on South Korea in 2010, one on a navy vessel and another on the island of Yeonpyeong. Those attacks killed 50 people. Pyongyang still denies responsibility for the sinking of the South Korean warship, the Cheonan, in which 46 sailors died.
On Tuesday, Japan said it had deployed missile defense systems around Tokyo amid expectations that the North could carry out a missile test in the coming days.
The Japanese government is making "every possible effort to protect the Japanese people and ensure their safety," said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
South Korean government officials have said they think North Korea could conduct the test launch of a missile as soon as Wednesday, following reports that the North had loaded as many as two medium-range missiles onto mobile launchers on its east coast.