North Korea experienced multiple failed attempts earlier this year to put a military spy satellite into orbit. Despite a promise to make a third attempt in October, the launch has been delayed. South Korean officials believe the delay is due to North Korea’s collaboration with Russia on technological assistance. It is anticipated that the launch could occur within the next few days.
The South Korean Defense Minister, Shin Wonsik, stated that the launch is expected later this month and added that Korean and US authorities are closely monitoring North Korea’s actions. Senior military officer, Kang Hopil, issued a televised statement urging North Korea to cancel the launch attempt. He warned that necessary measures would be taken to protect the lives and safety of the people if North Korea proceeds despite the warning.
The UN Security Council has banned any satellite launches by North Korea, perceiving them as hidden tests of missile technology. Kang stated that while North Korea needs a spy satellite to enhance monitoring of South Korea, the launch also aims to strengthen its long-range missile program.
In response to the anticipated launch, South Korea hinted at a potential suspension of the 2018 inter-Korean military agreements. These agreements require both Koreas to halt aerial surveillance activities and live-firing drills near the border to prevent accidental clashes. Kang expressed concern that North Korea’s repeated violations of the agreement have caused problems in South Korea’s military readiness.
Furthermore, South Korea has accused North Korea of acquiring Russian technologies to improve its nuclear and military capabilities. This alleged collaboration is believed to involve the exchange of conventional arms to support Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. Both Russia and North Korea have denied these allegations, although they have demonstrated a willingness to enhance bilateral cooperation due to their respective security tensions with the United States.