|Tensions Drive SKoreans From Factory|
|By JOOHEE CHO (@jooheecho)||Apr 6, 2013, 7:43 AM|
After several weeks of non-stop daily threats of a nuclear attack, North Korea's mouthpiece Korean Central TV Broadcast appeared to take a break on Saturday as more South Korean workers left the joint North-South factory complex located north of the Demilitarized Zone.
With no new provocative messages to the world, the station ran an old documentary film of Kim Jong Un dated March 17. The North Korean leader was featured ordering arms industry workers to increase production of artillery.
"Once the war breaks out, we have to destroy the enemies' key military locations and government institutions with a quick and sudden strike," he said in the film.
On Wednesday, North Korean authorities banned South Korean workers from entering the Kaesong Industrial Zone, an inter-Korean project just above the border.
Nearly 100 South Korean workers left Kaesong Saturday as another company operating in the zone closed, The Associated Press reported.
South Korean officials closely monitoring North Korea's military movements said they believe the recent threats are rhetorical and confirmed that there are no signs of preparations for a full-scale conflict, local media reported.
"There's nothing going on the North Korean conventional side, zero, other than the missiles," officials in Washington confirmed to ABC News.
Foreign tourist groups flying back from Pyongyang to Beijing said the situation there remained normal and calm.
North Korean authorities on Friday had warned foreign embassies and international organizations in Pyongyang to consider leaving the country by April 10, saying they would be unable to guarantee safety for staff members if a conflict breaks out.
They reportedly explained that it was because the United States wants war and the current question is not whether a war would break out, but when.
None of the embassies have expressed immediate plans to evacuate so far. That includes the Swedish embassy, the protecting power to the U.S. in North Korea.
It is unclear whether there were any Americans there but the Swedish diplomats would be in contact, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
The Pentagon and the State Department on Friday urged North Korea to step back and adhere to international obligations and not launch a missile test.
"We still want to leave the door open if the DPRK's (North Korea) willing to make a different choice," Nuland said.
Is North Korea Preparing Missile Launch?
North Korea is believed to have moved one or two Musudan missiles to its eastern coast. The missiles have a range of 1,800 miles, capable of reaching American military bases in Okinawa, Japan and Guam.
U.S. officials told ABC News that the exact location has not been confirmed, but said the fact that North Korea has moved the missile or missiles is a clear indication of a potential launch.
The intermediate-range Musudan type was showcased in a North Korean military parade but is yet to be tested.
North Korea experts said they expect the missile launch, if it does occur, would come around around April 15, the day Kim Jong Un's grandfather, Kim Il Sung -- the founder of North Korea was born. The launch could be another test, or a military strike attempt, experts said.
April 15 is considered the most important holiday to North Koreans who have been celebrating it with bonus rations of meat and rice, and candy treats for children.
The U.S. and its allies in the region are weighing possible responses should a missile launch occur.
Retired Marine Corps Col. Steve Ganyard, an ABC News military consultant, said the U.S. has never attempted to shoot down a rocket similar to North Korea's.
"Until you actually do it for real there's no knowing that we have 100 percent certainty of knocking this down," Ganyard said.
ABC News' Luis E. Martinez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.