South Korea is considering the partial suspension of the 2018 inter-Korean military agreement in the event that North Korea attempts to launch a spy satellite for the third time, according to sources. The Comprehensive Military Agreement between Pyongyang and Seoul established buffer zones and no-fly zones near the inter-Korean border.
The agreement prohibits unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flights within 10 kilometers of the western region of the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) and within 15 kilometers of the eastern region. It also forbids artillery firing exercises, naval drills, and surveillance activities in these areas to prevent accidental clashes.
However, concerns have been raised that certain provisions of the agreement may limit South Korea’s military readiness against North Korea by restricting aerial reconnaissance and training exercises. The possibility of resuming surveillance activities along the border will depend on whether North Korea launches a military spy satellite.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service recently informed lawmakers that North Korea is in the final stages of preparations for a spy satellite launch, following failed attempts in May and August. The chances of success this time are believed to be higher due to suspected Russian technological assistance, stemming from a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
South Korea has criticized North Korea’s satellite launches as provocative acts that violate U.N. Security Council resolutions prohibiting ballistic missile technology. Defense Minister Shin Won-sik has repeatedly called for the suspension of the inter-Korean agreement, citing over 100 explicit violations by the North in the past five years.
President Yoon Suk Yeol has also warned of a potential suspension of the agreement if North Korea intrudes into South Korean territory, in response to five North Korean drones infiltrating South Korean airspace.
In summary, South Korea is considering suspending certain provisions of the inter-Korean military agreement as a precautionary measure against North Korean provocations, particularly in the event of a spy satellite launch.