South Korea’s military authorities have detected new activities from North Korea that indicate a potential satellite launch. While specific details were not disclosed, South Korea has warned that it will respond to any developments that pose a threat to regional security. Kang Ho-pil, the South’s chief director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, strongly urged North Korea to immediately cease its preparations for the launch.
South Korea’s military cooperation with Washington and Tokyo could result in necessary measures being taken to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. This could include the possibility of suspending the effectiveness of the 2018 inter-Korean military agreement, which aimed to halt hostile actions near the border. Critics in South Korea argue that the agreement has limited the country’s surveillance capabilities against North Korean provocations.
North Korea’s launch of a military reconnaissance satellite using ballistic missile technology would be a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. The country has also conducted provocations near the inter-Korean border, which violate the inter-Korean agreement. Last week, it was reported that North Korea successfully tested a new solid-fuel engine for an intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of approximately 4,000 kilometers.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service revealed that Russia has acquired over 1 million artillery shells from North Korea since August. In exchange, it is likely that Russia provided technology transfer for the so-called “satellite” launch. This detection coincides with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s departure to Europe for his state visit to the United Kingdom and France. North Korea has a history of conducting ballistic missile tests when South Korean presidents are abroad.
To demonstrate readiness and operational strength, South Korea’s presidential National Security Council convened to discuss potential provocations from North Korea. The council aims to strengthen the defense posture of the military to effectively respond to any provocations. This action communicates South Korea’s preparedness to North Korea and assures voters that the government can handle North Korean provocations even in the president’s absence.
South Korea is scheduled to hold its general election in April.