YONHAP (South Korea), CNN, (USA), REUTERS
SEOUL - South Korea has backtracked from an earlier statement that said there was evidence North Korea was preparing for its fourth nuclear test.
South Korea's Defense Ministry on Monday denied earlier suggestions by South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae that a nuclear arms test was imminent in North Korea, calling vehicle and personnel activities at the northeastern Punggye-ri nuclear test facility "routine."
"We found there had been no unusual movements that indicated it wanted to carry out a nuclear test," a Defense Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s news agency Yonhap revealed Monday that North Korea was withdrawing its 51,000 workers from the jointly operated Kaesong industrial park located near the border, 10 kilometers north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The complex was considered as the last remaining symbol of cooperation between the two Koreas.
Pyongyang had already been preventing South Korean workers and managers from entering the Kaesong complex and threatened to shut it down entirely amid weeks of war threats and other efforts to punish South Korea and the U.S. for ongoing joint military drills, CNN says.