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(2nd LD) N. Korea has likely not moved mobile missile launchers: source
SEOUL, April 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea seemed to stop moving vehicles suspected to be mobile launchers for its medium-range missiles over the past two days, a government source said Saturday, in a sign that Pyongyang's missile launch may not be imminent.

   According to intelligence sources, the North had moved two Musudan intermediate missiles, which had been concealed in a shed in the eastern port city of Wonsan, in and out of the facility earlier this week in an apparent bid to interfere with Seoul's intelligence monitoring.

   Four or five vehicles, suspected of being so-called transporter erector launchers (TEL), were also previously moving around in South Hamgyeong Province.

   But a government source said that since Thursday the North has stopped moving the mobile launchers, whose timing comes on the heels of a dialogue proposal by South Korea and the U.S.

   "There are no signs that the TELs have been moved in and out of the facility since Thursday or that missile launches are imminent," the government source said. "Situations surrounding the missile launch have not changed."

   Geopolitical risks have heightened on the Korean Peninsula amid speculation that North Korea is poised to launch its medium-range ballistic missile, which is believed to be capable of flying as far as the U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific Ocean.

   U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday in Seoul that the U.S. is ready to talk with the North though he stressed that preconditions for any talks hinge on Pyongyang giving up its missile launch and nuclear ambitions.

   South Korean President Park Geun-hye said in a meeting with ruling party lawmakers on Thursday that she intends to "talk with North Korea" and continue humanitarian aid to the impoverished nation regardless of security tensions.

   "The North might be deliberating Seoul and Washington's dialogue offer," another source said. "We are closely monitoring whether there are any changes in North Korea's moves to launch missiles."

   However, Christopher Hill, a former chief U.S. nuclear envoy, said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency that it is not likely for the North to return to the negotiation table for the time being despite the dialogue proposal by Seoul and Washington.

   Hill said that North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power, but there is the need to counter the North's nuclear ambition, necessitating further stronger alliances among Washington, Seoul and Tokyo, and close cooperation from China.

   Pyongyang has ratcheted up its bellicose rhetoric by threatening to strike South Korea and the U.S as the U.N. Security Council in March adopted new sanctions on the communist country for its February nuke test.

   This week, the North, which is controlled by young leader Kim Jong-un, suspended operations at the joint industrial complex in its border city of Kaesong, the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean cooperation, withdrawing all of its workers from the site.

   South Korea and the United States have upgraded their surveillance posture to keep closer tabs on a possible missile launch by the North.

   Speculation had risen that the missile launch might take place around Monday, on which the birthday of the North's late founding father Kim Il-sung falls.

  (END)
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