South Korea's military has issued a warning to North Korea, urging it to reconsider its planned spy satellite launch. The warning includes the potential consequences of Seoul suspending an inter-Korean peace deal and resuming frontline aerial surveillance if the launch proceeds.
Despite two failed attempts earlier this year to place a military spy satellite into orbit, North Korea has not abandoned its plans. South Korean officials attribute the delay to North Korea potentially seeking technological assistance from Russia. It is anticipated that North Korea may proceed with the launch in the coming days, prompting concerns and responses from South Korean authorities.
Senior South Korean military officer Kang Hopil has called on North Korea to promptly cancel its third launch attempt. “Our military will come up with necessary measures to protect the lives and safety of the people if North Korea pushes ahead with a military spy satellite launch despite our warning,” Kang said in a televised statement.
South Korean Defense Minister Shin Wonsik revealed in an interview with public broadcaster KBS on Sunday that the anticipated launch by North Korea is expected later this month. Both South Korean and U.S. authorities are actively monitoring North Korea's actions in response to the impending launch.
The UN Security Council strictly prohibits any satellite launches by North Korea, interpreting them as concealed tests of its missile technology. Kang Hopil, a senior South Korean military officer, emphasized that beyond North Korea's objective of enhancing its monitoring capabilities of South Korea with a spy satellite, the launch is also seen as a strategic move to reinforce its long-range missile program.
South Korea has accused North Korea of augmenting its nuclear and military capabilities by obtaining Russian technologies. This alleged exchange involves North Korea supplying conventional arms to support Russia's involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. Both Moscow and Pyongyang have dismissed these accusations as unfounded, asserting that there is no arms transfer deal. However, both nations, facing distinct and prolonged security tensions with the United States, have been openly advocating for an expansion of their bilateral cooperation.
In September, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited Russia and held talks with President Vladimir Putin at Cosmodrome, Russia's primary domestic launch center. When questioned by Russia's state media about the possibility of aiding North Korea in building satellites, Putin responded, "That's why we have come here. The (North Korean) leader shows a keen interest in rocket technology."
South Korean officer Kang did not explicitly outline the retaliatory measures that South Korea might take in response to North Korea's potential third launch. However, he strongly indicated that such actions could involve the suspension of the 2018 inter-Korean military agreements. These agreements mandated both Koreas to cease aerial surveillance activities and live-firing drills along their tense border.
Kang emphasized that North Korea has already breached the 2018 agreement on multiple occasions. Instances include the North's destruction of an unoccupied inter-Korean liaison office in North Korea, the intrusion of drones into South Korean territory, and the staging of firing drills along the maritime border.
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