South Korea’s military has issued a warning to North Korea, urging them to halt their planned launch of a spy satellite. The military stated that if North Korea proceeds with the launch, South Korea may suspend an inter-Korean agreement aimed at reducing tensions and resume front-line aerial surveillance as a response.
North Korea had previously attempted two satellite launches earlier this year but failed both times. However, South Korean officials believe that a launch may occur in the coming days, as North Korea is suspected of receiving assistance from Russia. The delay in the launch was attributed to this assistance.
South Korean Defense Minister Shin Wonsik mentioned in an interview that the launch was expected to take place later in the month. He also stated that South Korean and U.S. authorities are closely monitoring North Korea’s actions.
The United Nations Security Council prohibits North Korea from conducting satellite launches due to concerns that they are disguised tests of missile technology. South Korea believes that North Korea aims to improve its monitoring of South Korea while also bolstering its long-range missile program.
It is speculated that North Korea is seeking Russian technologies to enhance its military capabilities, including its nuclear program. Foreign governments and experts have suggested that North Korea may be trading conventional arms to support Russia’s efforts in Ukraine. However, both Russia and North Korea have denied these allegations.
In response to a potential launch, South Korea has not explicitly specified the retaliatory measures it would take. However, they have suggested that it could include the resumption of aerial surveillance activities and live-fire drills at border areas, going against the 2018 inter-Korean military agreement on easing tensions.
South Korea argues that North Korea has already violated the agreement multiple times, citing instances such as the destruction of an inter-Korean liaison office, drone activity, and live-fire drills along the maritime boundary. These violations have caused concerns regarding South Korea’s military readiness.
The 2018 agreement, signed by then-South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, aimed to create buffer zones and no-fly zones along the border, and remove guard posts and landmines. However, tensions increased after the breakdown of nuclear diplomacy between Kim and former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2019.
Since then, North Korea has focused on expanding its nuclear arsenal, leading the current conservative South Korean President, Yoon Suk Yeol, to increase military drills with the United States.