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South Korea walks back on claims North is preparing missile test

South Korean official says he misspoke when he earlier warned that his nation felt a new North Korean nuclear test was imminent.

North korea south korea troops 2013 04 05 0Enlarge
A South Korean soldier stands on a military guard post near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas in the border city of Paju on April 5, 2013. The United States said it was taking "all necessary precautions" after North Korea rang fresh alarms in an escalating crisis by moving a medium-range missile to its east coast. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images) (Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images)

A South Korean official admitted April 8th that he misspoke when he indicated that a new North Korean nuclear test was imminent, now insisting that all appears to be normal.

Earlier April 8th, South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said to a parliamentary committee that there were signs of nuclear test preparation at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, according to Voice of America, although he wouldn't elaborate further.

Read more from GlobalPost: Conflict in the Koreas

"We found there had been no unusual movements that indicated it wanted to carry out a nuclear test," a Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said later that day via Radio Free Europe, backtracking from the earlier comments.

He reiterated that all activity at the site appeared to be "routine," and did not appear to be preparations for a fourth unpopular nuclear test on the part of the Northern regime.

"Following the third nuclear test, we had explained that the North made both the western and southern tunnels ready for a nuclear test," said Kim to the Yonhap News Agency. "The situation remains the same. If the North makes a decision, it could always carry out an atomic test

The South's initial comments had added yet more tension to the already boiling-over conflict between the two Koreas, days after the North officially forced all South Korean workers to leave the joint Kaesong industrial park.

Also on Monday, the North announced it would withdraw all of its own workers from Kaesong and the border area, citing "unacceptable provocations against the country's dignity" on the part of the South, according to Yonhap.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/north-korea/130408/south-korea-walks-back-claims-north-preparing-