April 7, 2013 in Nation/World

North Korea crisis delays missile test

Lolita C. Baldor Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

A South Korean army soldier walks on Unification Bridge in Paju, South Korea, near the border village of Panmunjom, on Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

More workers returning

SEOUL, South Korea – The North Korean factory park that is the last vestige of cooperation with the South moved closer to paralysis Saturday as nearly 100 South Korean workers went home across a border that Pyongyang has closed in the return direction.

South Korean workers who left the Kaesong industrial complex just north of the heavily armed Demilitarized Zone said their companies were running out of raw materials that ordinarily would be trucked in from the south. South Korea’s Unification Ministry said one of the more than 120 companies operating at the complex shut down Saturday, the fourth to do so since North Korea barred people and cargo from entering on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON – Amid mounting tensions with North Korea, the Pentagon has delayed an intercontinental ballistic missile test that had been planned for next week at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, a senior defense official told the Associated Press on Saturday.

The official said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel decided to put off the long-planned Minuteman 3 test until sometime next month because of concerns the launch could be misinterpreted and exacerbate the Korean crisis. Hagel made the decision Friday, the official said.

The test was not connected to the ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises that have been going on in that region and have stoked North Korean anger and fueled an escalation in threatening actions and rhetoric.

North Korea’s military warned last week that it was authorized to attack the U.S. using “smaller, lighter and diversified” nuclear weapons. And South Korean officials say North Korea has moved at least one missile with “considerable range” to its east coast.

Pyongyang’s moves come on the heels of the North’s nuclear test in February, and the launch in December of a long-range North Korean rocket that could potentially hit the continental U.S. Added to that is the uncertainty surrounding the intentions of North Korea’s new young leader, Kim Jong Un.

Meanwhile, North Korea has been angered by increasing sanctions and ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which have included a broad show of force ranging from stealthy B-2 bombers and F-22 fighters to a wide array of ballistic missile defense-capable warships. The exercises are scheduled to continue through the end of the month.

© Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email