South Korea is discussing the possibility of partially suspending the 2018 inter-Korean military agreement as a precautionary measure against potential North Korean provocations, particularly if they attempt to launch a spy satellite for the third time. The Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA) aims to establish buffer zones and no-fly zones near the inter-Korean border to prevent clashes between the two countries, including banning artillery firing, naval drills, and surveillance activities.
According to an anonymous senior government official, one of the measures being considered is the resumption of surveillance activities near border areas if North Korea launches a military spy satellite. The current agreement prohibits flights of unmanned aerial vehicles within 10 kilometers of the western region and 15 kilometers of the eastern region from the Military Demarcation Line (MDL).
The South Korean unification ministry has expressed concern that the CMA limits the military’s defense capabilities against North Korea, specifically its aerial reconnaissance capabilities and military training. They stated that the government will carefully assess necessary measures while monitoring North Korea’s actions closely.
The potential suspension of the agreement comes as North Korea appears to be in the final stages of preparations for its third attempt to launch a spy satellite. Defense Minister Shin Won-sik has been advocating for the pact’s suspension, citing its restrictions on surveillance capabilities. He discussed this issue with U.S. Secretary of State Lloyd Austin during a meeting on Monday. Austin mentioned that they had exchanged views on the matter and agreed to continue close consultations.
South Korea has strongly condemned North Korea’s previous satellite launches, considering them a provocation and a violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions prohibiting the use of ballistic missile technology.