South Korea’s military has issued a warning to North Korea concerning its planned spy satellite launch. The military suggested that if North Korea proceeds with the launch, Seoul could suspend the inter-Korean peace deal and resume frontline aerial surveillance as retaliation.
North Korea tried and failed two times earlier this year to put a military spy satellite into orbit. Despite vowing to make a third attempt in October, it did not follow through. South Korean officials speculate that the delay is due to North Korea receiving Russian technological assistance, but they believe that a launch could happen in the coming days.
Senior South Korean military officer Kang Hopil has urged North Korea to cancel its third launch attempt immediately. He stated that if North Korea goes ahead with the launch despite the warning, necessary measures will be taken to protect the lives and safety of the people.
South Korean Defense Minister Shin Wonsik mentioned in an interview that the launch is expected later this month. Both South Korean and U.S. authorities are monitoring North Korea’s movements.
The United Nations Security Council has banned satellite launches by North Korea, viewing them as tests of the country’s missile technology. However, North Korea sees the spy satellite as crucial for monitoring South Korea and also as a way to enhance its long-range missile program.
South Korea has accused North Korea of receiving Russian technologies in exchange for conventional arms to support Russia’s war in Ukraine. Both countries have denied the alleged arms transfer deal, but they have been openly seeking closer bilateral cooperation.
If North Korea proceeds with the launch, South Korea may consider suspending the 2018 inter-Korean military agreements. These agreements require both countries to halt aerial surveillance activities and live-firing drills along their tense border. 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.
The breakdown of nuclear diplomacy between North Korea and the United States in 2019 has strained relations between North and South Korea. Since then, North Korea has focused on expanding its nuclear arsenal, leading to South Korea’s current president, Yoon Suk Yeol, increasing military drills with the United States.