April 9, 2013 (TSR-Xinhua) – There is no immediate sign of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to carry out its fourth nuclear test, the Defense Ministry said Monday, refuting earlier comments by the unification minister.
“There is no sign for North Korea (DPRK) to conduct another nuke test,” an official at the Ministry of National Defense said by phone. He said the movements near the DPRK’s nuclear test site can be seen as “normal activity.”
Earlier in the morning, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae told lawmakers that “I can only say that there are such signs (of the DPRK’s new nuke test),” answering the suspicion that there is a rise in movements of personnel and vehicles near the test complex at Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province where Pyongyang conducted its previous three nuke tests.
Following the minister’s comments, defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters that “the activities are not seen currently as signs of nuke test,” denying the minister’s remarks.
The spokesperson’s office at the Unification Ministry said that Ryoo’s remarks did not mean an immediate signal of the DPRK’s nuclear test although he mentioned the expression of “sign”.
The office noted that his comments were in an extension line with the assessment that Pyongyang has prepared for another nuke test and it could always carry out an atomic test if the decision is made by the DPRK.
The mixed voice from Seoul officials came amid mounting tensions in the Korean Peninsula.
The DPRK said Monday that it would withdraw all its workers from the joint industrial park at the DPRK’s border town of Kaesong, warning that it would be totally up to the South Korean authorities’ behavior regarding whether to maintain or abolish the inter-Korean industrial zone.
The pullout of all DPRK workers, announced five days after Pyongyang banned the entry of South Korean workers and vehicles to Kaesong, would actually stop operations at the industrial park that is housing 123 South Korean companies and employing some 54, 000 DPRK workers.