South Korea’s military has issued a warning to North Korea, urging them not to proceed with their planned spy satellite launch. Seoul has suggested that they could suspend an inter-Korean agreement to reduce tensions and resume front-line aerial surveillance as a response. North Korea has previously attempted to launch a military spy satellite twice this year, but both attempts were unsuccessful. However, South Korean officials believe that a launch could happen in the coming days, with the assistance of Russian technology.
The United Nations Security Council prohibits North Korea from conducting satellite launches due to concerns that they are disguised tests of missile technology. While North Korea claims the need for a spy satellite to monitor South Korea, it is widely believed that the launch is also intended to enhance their long-range missile program. Foreign governments and experts have expressed concerns that North Korea is seeking assistance from Russia to strengthen its nuclear and military capabilities.
South Korean Defense Minister Shin Wonsik has stated that the launch is expected to take place later this month. Both South Korean and U.S. authorities are closely monitoring North Korea’s actions. The South Korean military has not specified what retaliatory measures they would take if North Korea proceeds with the launch. However, it is hinted that these steps could include the resumption of aerial surveillance activities and live-fire drills at the border, which would violate the inter-Korean military agreement.
The 2018 agreement between North and South Korea aimed to ease front-line tensions, but it has been repeatedly violated by North Korea. These violations include the destruction of an inter-Korean liaison office, the flying of drones into South Korea, and live-fire drills along the maritime boundary. The agreement has significantly restricted South Korea’s ability to conduct aerial reconnaissance and live-fire drills, hampering their military readiness.
The deteriorating relations between the two Koreas can be attributed to the breakdown of nuclear diplomacy between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2019. Since then, North Korea has focused on expanding its nuclear arsenal, prompting South Korea’s current president, Yoon Suk Yeol, to increase military drills with the United States. Critics argue that suspending the 2018 agreement could provide North Korea with an excuse to provoke further.