The South Korean military has warned North Korea not to proceed with its planned satellite spy launch, suggesting that Seoul could suspend an inter-Korean peace agreement and resume frontline aerial surveillance in retaliation.
North Korea has failed in its two previous attempts to put a military spy satellite into orbit earlier this year and has not fulfilled its commitment to make a third attempt in October. South Korean officials have stated that this delay is likely due to North Korea receiving technological assistance from Russia and that the North may proceed with a launch in the coming days.
South Korean military officer, Kang Hopil, has urged North Korea to immediately cancel its third launch attempt. “Our military will take necessary measures to protect the lives and safety of the people if North Korea proceeds with the launch of a military spy satellite despite our warning,” Kang stated in a televised statement.
South Korean Defense Minister, Shin Wonsik, stated on Sunday in an interview with the public television channel KBS that the launch was scheduled for later this month and that South Korean and American authorities were monitoring North Korea’s movements.
The United Nations Security Council prohibits any satellite launch by North Korea, as it considers it a disguised test of its missile technology. Kang indicated that if North Korea needs a spy satellite to enhance its surveillance of South Korea, its launch is also aimed at strengthening its long-range missile program.
South Korea has accused North Korea of receiving Russian technology to enhance its nuclear capabilities and other military capabilities in exchange for the supply of conventional weapons to support Russia’s war in Ukraine. Moscow and Pyongyang have dismissed the alleged arms transfer agreement as unfounded, but both countries – locked in separate and protracted security tensions with the United States – have openly pushed for expanding bilateral cooperation.
In September, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited Russia and met with President Vladimir Putin at the country’s main national launch center, the cosmodrome. When asked by Russian state media if his country would assist North Korea in building satellites, Putin responded, “That’s why we are here. The leader (of North Korea) has come for this purpose.”