Seoul warned North Korea against launching a spy satellite and hinted at the possibility of suspending the 2018 peace agreement

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s military has warned North Korea not to go ahead with the launch of its planned spy satellite, suggesting Monday that Seoul may suspend the inter-Korean peace deal and resume front-line aerial surveillance in response to the launch.

North Korea failed in its first two attempts to put a military spy satellite into orbit earlier this year and has not kept its pledge. Third attempt in October. South Korean officials said the delay was likely because North Korea was receiving Russian technological assistance and that the North could conduct a launch in the coming days.

Kang Hubil, a senior officer in the South Korean military, urged North Korea to immediately cancel its third attempt to launch the missile.

“Our military will take necessary measures to protect people’s lives and safety if North Korea goes ahead with launching a military spy satellite despite our warning,” Kang said in a televised statement.

South Korea Defense Minister Shin Wonsik He said in an interview with public broadcaster KBS on Sunday that the launch is expected later this month and that South Korean and US authorities are monitoring North Korea’s movements.

The United Nations Security Council bans any satellite launch by North Korea because it considers it a convincing test of its missile technology. While North Korea needs a spy satellite to improve its surveillance of South Korea, its launch is also aimed at bolstering its long-range missile program, Kang said.

South Korea has accused North Korea of ​​receiving Russian technologies to enhance its nuclear and other military capabilities in exchange for supplying conventional weapons to support Russia’s war in Ukraine. Both Moscow and Pyongyang have rejected the alleged arms transfer deal as baseless, but both countries — embroiled in separate, long-standing security tensions with the United States — are publicly pushing to expand bilateral cooperation.

In September, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traveled to Russia and met with President Vladimir Putin at the Cosmodrome, Russia’s most important domestic launch center. when Put it in When Russian state media asked him whether his country would help North Korea build satellites, he said: “That’s why we came here.” The (North Korean) leader shows great interest in missile technology.

Kang, the South Korean officer, did not explicitly say what retaliatory steps South Korea could take if North Korea launched a third missile. But he strongly hinted that the steps could include suspending the 2018 inter-Korean military agreements that require the two Koreas to halt air surveillance activities and live-fire exercises along their tense border.

Kang stressed that North Korea has already violated the 2018 agreement several times. He pointed out that North Korea destroyed an unmanned inter-Korean liaison office in North Korea, launched drones inside South Korean territory and conducted shooting exercises along the maritime border.

“Despite the North’s repeated violations of the agreement, our army has patiently adhered to the terms of the military agreement, but this has caused major problems in our army’s readiness,” Kang said.

He said South Korea avoided firing exercises in the buffer zone created near the disputed western maritime border between the two rivals. South Korea’s operation of aerial reconnaissance assets designed to monitor North Korean forward-deployed artillery and other equipment has been significantly restricted by the 2018 agreement as well, Kang said.

The military agreement, reached during a short-lived rapprochement between liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, created buffer zones along the land and sea borders and no-fly zones above the border to prevent accidental clashes.

Relations between the two rivals later became strained after the collapse of their broader nuclear diplomacy Kim and then US President Donald Trump in 2019. Since then, North Korea has been focusing on expanding its nuclear arsenal, prompting South Korea’s current conservative president, Yoon Suk-yeol, to expand military exercises with the United States.


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