S. Korea Backs Off Statement on Missile Launch by North

South Korea's defense ministry on Monday backed away from an official's Sunday statement that North Korea may launch a missile by Wednesday, at which time the North had said it could not guarantee the safety of diplomats in the capital of Pyongyang. South Korea’s government said last week that the North had moved two medium-range missiles to its east coast, possibly to perform a test launch. But on Monday, South Korea's defense ministry said the movement of vehicles and personnel near North Korea's nuclear test site — picked up on satellite images — appeared to be normal activity, refuting speculation that the latest actions point to an imminent atomic test, Yonhap news agency reported. Also on Monday, North Korea declared that it will suspend operations at a factory complex it has jointly run with South Korea. The North is pulling out more than 53,000 of its workers from the Kaesong industrial complex; shutting it down, even temporarily, would show that North Korea is willing to hurt its own economy to continue to provoke its perceived enemies.

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