The South Korean military has issued a warning to North Korea, urging it to abandon its planned spy satellite launch. The military hinted that the peace deal brokered between the two countries in 2018 could be suspended, leading to a resumption of retaliatory frontline aerial surveillance.
North Korea has been attempting to launch a military spy satellite since earlier this year. Despite failing in its first two attempts, it has vowed to try again. South Korean officials speculate that the delay is due to Pyongyang receiving Russian technological assistance and anticipate a potentially successful launch in the coming days.
Senior South Korean military officer Kang Hopil strongly urged North Korea to cancel its third launch attempt immediately. He stated that necessary measures would be taken to protect the lives and safety of the people if North Korea proceeds with the launch.
Kang also hinted at the possible suspension of 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 violated the agreement multiple times by flying drones into South Korean territory and conducting firing drills across the maritime border. The South Korean military has been abiding by the clauses in the agreement, but this has caused issues in their readiness.
The military deal between the two Koreas was reached during a period of improved relations between South Korea and North Korea. It established buffer zones and no-fly zones to prevent accidental clashes.
The United Nations Security Council has banned any satellite launches by North Korea, viewing them as disguised missile technology tests. North Korea has also been accused of receiving Russian technology to enhance its nuclear arsenal and military capabilities.
Despite failed nuclear diplomacy talks with the United States in 2019, North Korea has been focused on expanding its nuclear arsenal. Its assertiveness has led South Korea to increase military drills with the US under the Biden administration.
Experts believe that North Korea uses heightened tensions with its rivals as a pretext to expand its nuclear arsenal and then uses its arms as leverage for concessions. It has conducted over 100 missile tests in preparation for US-South Korean military drills.
The US and South Korea have repeatedly warned that any attempt by North Korea to use nuclear weapons would result in the end of Kim Jong Un’s government.