South Korea’s military has issued a warning to North Korea, urging them to cancel their planned spy satellite launch. South Korea has threatened to suspend an inter-Korean peace deal and resume frontline aerial surveillance if North Korea proceeds with the launch. North Korea has previously attempted to put a military spy satellite into orbit but failed in its first two attempts earlier this year. The delay in the third attempt is believed to be due to North Korea receiving technological assistance from Russia.
Senior South Korean military officer Kang Hopil has called for North Korea to cancel the launch immediately. He stated that if North Korea ignores the warning and proceeds with the launch, the South Korean military will take necessary measures to protect the lives and safety of its people. South Korean Defence Minister Shin Wonsik has confirmed that the launch is expected later this month, and both South Korean and US authorities are closely monitoring North Korea’s movements.
It is important to note that the UN Security Council prohibits satellite launches by North Korea, as it views them as disguised tests of the country’s missile technology. South Korea has accused North Korea of receiving Russian technologies to enhance its military capabilities in exchange for supplying conventional arms to support Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited Russia in September and met with President Vladimir Putin, expressing his interest in rocket technology.
Kang did not explicitly state the retaliatory steps that South Korea could take, but he strongly hinted that they could include the suspension of the 2018 inter-Korean military agreements. These agreements require both Koreas to halt aerial surveillance activities and live-firing drills along their border. Kang highlighted that North Korea has already violated the agreement multiple times, including the destruction of an unoccupied inter-Korean liaison office and conducting firing drills along the maritime border.
The 2018 military agreement was reached during a period of rapprochement between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. However, relations between the two countries have since strained, particularly after the breakdown of nuclear diplomacy between Kim and former US President Donald Trump in 2019. As North Korea focuses on expanding its nuclear arsenal, South Korea, under its current president Yoon Suk Yeol, has increased military drills with the United States.