It is too soon to tell if recent activity at some of North Korea’s rocket facilities is preparation for a missile launch, South Korea’s defense minister told a parliamentary hearing on Monday. Early in March, several American think-tanks and South Korean officials reported that satellite imagery showed possible preparations for a launch from the Sohae rocket launch site at Tongchang-ri, North Korea, which has been used in the past to launch satellites but not intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.“It’s hasty to call it missile-related activity,” Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo told a parliamentary defense committee. “Tongchang-ri is a launch site but we don’t see any activity being carried out for a missile launch.”When asked if he could confirm whether Sohae was functionally restored, Jeong said it was inappropriate for intelligence authorities to comment on every media report one way or the other. He also said there were signs of continued nuclear activity in North Korea, without elaborating. Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told a separate parliamentary panel that it was possible that the recent developments at the missile site were to bolster North Korea’s leverage in negotiations.“But given North Korea’s continued work, thorough analysis is needed to find out its exact intentions,” Cho said. On Friday, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told foreign diplomats and journalists in Pyongyang that leader Kim Jong Un was considering suspending talks with the United States and may rethink a freeze on missile and nuclear tests unless the United States made concessions.Published in Daily Times, March 19th 2019.