SEOUL – The Defense Minister of South Korea, Jeong Kyeong-Doo, said on Monday that he did not think the activities recently detected in North Korean missile facilities were preparations for launching a projectile.
Recent satellite images showed activity at the Sohae satellite launch base located in northwestern North Korea and at the Sanum Dong missile development center in Pyongyang, which appeared to suggest that the regime was preparing a launch after the failed summit with the United States in Hanoi.
“Describing them missile-related activities is a hasty judgment,” Jeong said on Monday before the National Assembly’s defense committee, as reported by South Korea’s news agency Yonhap.
“Though Dongchang-ri is a launch site, we don’t judge them as activities in preparation for a missile launch,” Jeong added.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha also said that the government was monitoring the situation closely and was keeping all possibilities open.
“Our government is also much concerned. We have been sending a message that we hope the North will make a wise judgment,” she told a parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and unification, Yonhap reported.
According to experts, Pyongyang may have chosen to mobilize resources in Sohae in order to pressurize the US to resume dialogue following the disagreement at the Hanoi summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.
The summit held in late February in the Vietnamese capital between Trump and Kim ended abruptly without agreement and highlighted the far-reaching differences between the two sides in their approaches to the denuclearization process and sanctions relief.
The disagreement in Hanoi revolved around the dismantling process of number of assets belonging to the North Korean nuclear arsenal and the volume of international sanctions currently weighing on Pyongyang that the US would have to lift in exchange.
On Friday, North Korean vice minister, Choe Son-Hui, said that Pyongyang was considering breaking off the dialogue with the US, blamed Washington for the Hanoi summit failure due to its excessive demands, and added that the regime could suspend the moratorium on weapons tests that has been in effect for the last 15 months.