by Mick the Ram
The deal set up five years ago between North and South Korea has been torn up, following the North’s successful launching of its Malligyong-1 military spy satellite, on 21 November, as part of a long-term plan set up by its leader Kim Jong Un, in January 2021.
Seoul immediately reacted by restarting surveillance operations along the border between the two nations, to enable the South to monitor North Korean outposts and long-range artillery.
That move angered North Korea, who now are vowing to fully suspend the 2018 pact and send stronger forces and equipment to the perimeter.
This launch is the third attempt, after the first two failed earlier in the year, and came only a matter of weeks after a meeting with Vladimir Putin by Kim Jong Un, at which the Russian leader is believed to have offered Pyongyang help with its space programme.
The White House called the latest move a “brazen violation” of UN resolutions, while Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, also condemned the action, which took a flight path over his country’s Okinawa prefecture, and on towards the Pacific Ocean.
Deal is off
The North Korean’s were furious at the response of the South and released a statement that said: “From now on, our army will never be bound by the September 19 North-South Military Agreement.”
It went on to promise to “withdraw all measures” taken to prevent military conflict in “all spheres including ground, sea and air”. They also said they would be deploying “more powerful armed forces and new-type military hardware” in the border region.
Accusations of previous breaks in agreement
The agreement in question was a no-fly zone established under the Comprehensive Military Agreement in 2018 – signed by both nations’ leaders in an attempt to de-escalate tensions between their two countries and prevent a conflict erupting.
It limited military movements by both sides near the border, removed guard posts, and banned live-fire drills.
The South have accused the North of failing to abide by the ruling on several occasions in the intervening years, particularly the last two. They say that missiles and artillery rounds have been fired into the sea in the South’s direction, as well as releasing drones that have flown as far as the capital Seoul.
Flexing military muscle
It is likely to see both nations upping their displays of artillery strength, with mounting provocation expected to come from the North.
South Korea’s defence minister, Shin Won-sik, said he would be monitoring opposition behaviour and discussing what counter measures to take with President Yoon Suk-yeol, who has been guest of King Charles III in the UK this past week.
South Korean government have long argued that the pact left them vulnerable to an attack, by prohibiting it from flying surveillance aircraft and reconnaissance drones along the border, so in some quarters there is probably even some relief.
Self-defence claim questioned
For their part, Pyongyang insist that the launch of the satellite is part of its “right to self-defence”. Nevertheless, the argument is that the technology could in theory enable the North to monitor the movement of US and South Korean troops and weapons on the Korean Peninsula, allowing it to spot incoming threats.
Additionally, It would also allow them to plot its nuclear attacks with more precision. Indeed, the state media of the North have already claimed that the country is reviewing images of US military bases in Guam, sent by the new satellite.
In clear violation
The Japanese government condemned the launch “in the strongest terms” and said a complaint had been lodged with North Korea. “Even if the purpose is to launch a satellite, this missile technology is a clear violation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions,” a spokesperson said.
Russian assistance rumoured
When Kim Jong Un met with Mr Putin at the Ostochny space centre in the east of Russia two months ago, there were rumours that there would be assistance offered to North Korea to build satellites.
In return, it is believed by both the South and the United States, that arms from North Korea are being sent to Moscow for use in Ukraine.