North Korea scraps military deal with South after spy satellite launch

A rocket carrying a spy satellite Malligyong-1 is prepared to be launched in a location given as North Gyeongsang Province, in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on November 21, 2023.

North Korea has said it was suspending a five-year-old accord reached with South Korea to reduce military tensions — the latest retaliatory fallout over Pyongyang's spy satellite launch.

The angry statement on Thursday from the nuclear-armed North's Defence Ministry came after state media claimed leader Kim Jong-un was already reviewing images of US military bases in Guam sent by Pyongyang's new eye in the sky.

With the United States leading allies slamming Tuesday's satellite launch as a "brazen violation" of UN sanctions, the South moved on Wednesday to partially suspend the 2018 deal, a series of measures put in place to cool tensions on the Korean peninsula.

On Thursday, the North said it was ripping up the agreement entirely.

"We will withdraw the military steps, taken to prevent military tension and conflict in all spheres including ground, sea and air, and deploy more powerful armed forces and new-type military hardware in the region along the Military Demarcation Line," the ministry said, according to state-run KCNA news agency.

The ministry said it "will never be bound" by the deal again, according to KCNA.

Washington, Seoul and Tokyo have slammed the sanctions-busting launch of the Malligyong-1 satellite, which KCNA images showed was watched by a smiling Kim.

It was Pyongyang's third attempt this year to put a satellite into orbit, and the first since Kim met President Vladimir Putin at a Russian cosmodrome in September.

Seoul's military said the satellite had entered orbit but warned it was too early to tell if it was working.

'Mere scrap of paper'

The North's Defence Ministry repeated on Thursday that the satellite launch was part of its "right to self-defence" and dismissed the "extremely hysterical" response from the South, in particular.

It accused the South of putting the deal under strain by stepping up military provocations, saying the agreement has "long been reduced to a mere scrap of paper", and called Seoul's decision to partially suspend it "reckless", according to KCNA.

The South "must pay dearly for their irresponsible and grave political and military provocations that have pushed the present situation to an uncontrollable phase," the ministry continued.

The South had said it would partially suspend the 2018 deal and resume surveillance operations along the border.

KCNA has said the satellite will begin a formal reconnaissance mission on December 1.

Successfully putting a spy satellite into orbit would improve North Korea's intelligence-gathering capabilities, particularly over South Korea, and provide crucial data in any military conflict, experts say.

Washington said the launch was a "brazen violation" of successive rounds of UN resolutions barring the North from tests of ballistic technology — used in both missiles and satellite launch rockets.

Seoul is planning to launch its first spy satellite via a SpaceX rocket later this month.

South Korean officials said the North Korean launch most likely involved Russian technical assistance under a growing partnership that has seen Pyongyang supply Russia with millions of artillery shells.

Russia and North Korea have denied arms deals but have promised deeper cooperation.


Source: TRT