South Korea’s military has issued a warning to North Korea, urging them to halt their planned spy satellite launch. The military suggested that if North Korea proceeds with the launch, Seoul could retaliate by suspending an inter-Korean peace deal and resume frontline aerial surveillance.
Earlier this year, North Korea made two unsuccessful attempts to put a military spy satellite into orbit. Despite vowing to make a third attempt in October, they did not follow through. However, South Korean officials believe that North Korea has been receiving technological assistance from Russia, and that a launch could happen in the coming days.
Senior South Korean military officer Kang Hopil called on North Korea to cancel their third launch immediately. He stated that if North Korea ignores the warning, the South Korean military will take necessary measures to protect the lives and safety of its people.
The United Nations Security Council prohibits satellite launches by North Korea, viewing them as disguised missile tests. Kang pointed out that while North Korea may need a spy satellite to enhance its monitoring of South Korea, the launch is also aimed at bolstering its long-range missile program.
South Korea has accused North Korea of receiving Russian technologies to enhance its military capabilities in exchange for conventional arms support in the conflict in Ukraine. Both Russia and North Korea have denied these allegations but have openly sought to expand bilateral cooperation.
Kang did not specify the exact retaliatory steps that South Korea would take in the event of a third launch. However, he strongly hinted that these steps could include suspending the 2018 inter-Korean military agreements, which require both countries to halt aerial surveillance activities and live-firing drills along their border.
Kang pointed out that North Korea has already violated the 2018 agreement multiple times, including the destruction of an inter-Korean liaison office, flying drones into South Korean territory, and staging firing drills along the maritime border. These violations have hindered South Korea’s military readiness.
The military deal reached in 2018 aimed to prevent accidental clashes between the two countries and created buffer zones and no-fly zones along land and sea boundaries. However, relations between the two Koreas have deteriorated since the breakdown of nuclear diplomacy between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former US President Donald Trump in 2019.
North Korea has been focused on expanding its nuclear arsenal, leading South Korea’s current president, Yoon Suk Yeol, to increase military drills with the United States to counter the threat.