Seoul: North Korea has pulled manpower and equipment out of its nuclear test site, says a report, which cites the move as a possible sign of an imminent blast.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency says Seoul has been keeping close watch on the underground Punggye-ri nuclear test site, as no movement of manpower and equipment has been observed there since Friday.
The agency quoted an unnamed source as saying the apparent withdrawal could point to a nuclear test being carried out soon.
North Korea has warned of a third atomic test since last month, but has not specified a date.
"When manpower and equipment are withdrawn, it can be an indication that a nuclear test is imminent," the source told Yonhap, requesting anonymity.
"We're watching the developments closely to know whether a nuclear test is imminent or it's another deceptive tactic," the source added.
Another Seoul government source told Yonhap the withdrawal of manpower and equipment could be linked to the Lunar New Year holiday, which is celebrated for three days in North Korea, having started on Sunday.
Seoul has predicted Pyongyang may carry out its third nuclear test between the end of the holiday and the late leader Kim Jong-il's birthday on February 16, Yonhap said.
The withdrawal from the northeastern nuclear site comes after North Korea accused the United States and South Korea of "fussing over speculation" in Japan-based pro-North weekly magazine Tongil Sinbo.