South Korea says no new signs North preparing nuclear test
SEOUL - Agance France-Presse
South Korean soldier patrols at a checkpoint on the Grand Unification Bridge, which leads to the demilitarized zone separating North Korea from South Korea, in Paju, north of Seoul April 8, 2013. REUTERS PhotoSouth Korea clarified Monday it had seen no fresh signs of North Korea preparing a fourth nuclear test, after earlier saying that activity was intensifying at the North's main atomic site.
"There are activities" at the North's Punggye-ri test site, but they "appear to be usual routine activities", Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok said. The Unification Ministry said another test did not appear to be "imminent".
North Korea pulls workers out of Kaesong industrial zone
North Korea announced Monday it would pull all its 53,000 workers out of the Kaesong joint industrial zone with South Korea and suspend all commercial operations in the complex, blaming "military warmongers".
North Korea "will withdraw all its employees from the zone", Kim Yang-Gon, a senior ruling party official, said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
At the same time, Pyongyang "will temporarily suspend the operations in the zone and examine the issue of whether it will allow its existence or close it", Kim added.
Kim, who toured Kaesong Monday morning, said the action had been forced by "military warmongers" seeking to make Kaesong a point of confrontation amid escalating military tensions on the Korean peninsula.
"How the situation will develop in the days ahead will entirely depend on the attitude of the South Korean authorities," he added.
The North has banned South Korean managers and personnel from crossing the border to enter the complex -- 10 kilometres (six miles) inside North Korea -- since Wednesday.
So far 13 of the 123 South Korean firms operating there have been forced to halt production due to fuel and raw material shortages. More than 300 South Koreans who were working in Kaesong when the ban was imposed have returned to the North, but more than 500 remain in the complex.