The South Korean military has issued a warning to North Korea, urging them to immediately cease preparations for another military spy satellite launch. Lt. Gen. Kang Ho-pil, chief director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered the warning, stating that if North Korea proceeds with the launch, there will be necessary measures taken to protect the lives and safety of the South Korean people.
Defense Minister Shin Won-sik suggested that if the launch takes place, South Korea could partially suspend the inter-Korean military agreement of 2018. The agreement prohibits unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flights within certain zones and restricts live artillery exercises, naval drills, and surveillance activities in the buffer zones.
The South Korean Defense Ministry has expressed concerns that the agreement could limit the country’s military readiness against North Korea. They argue that it hampers aerial reconnaissance and training exercises. Shin stated that North Korea may attempt its satellite launch before South Korea launches its first domestically developed reconnaissance satellite on November 30.
Lt. Gen. Kang labeled the expected satellite launch by North Korea as a provocative act that poses a threat to South Korea’s national security. He also highlighted that the launch would violate United Nations Security Council sanctions resolutions, which ban North Korean launches involving ballistic missile technology.
Meanwhile, the arrival of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in South Korea this week is not directly related to the North’s satellite launch preparations but was already planned. However, the South Korean military stated that necessary measures can be taken if North Korea proceeds with the launch.
It is difficult to determine the exact timing of the satellite launch as the North has engaged in deceptive activities in the past to hide their weapons tests. Earlier, Defense Minister Shin stated that preparations for the launch were underway and estimated it to take place within a week.
North Korea is believed to have resolved its engine problems with Russian assistance. Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his intentions to help develop North Korea’s satellite program during a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in September.
In May and August, North Korea attempted to launch a reconnaissance satellite into orbit, but both attempts failed.