On Thursday, North Korea acknowledged the holdup of a five-year-old agreement with South Korea meant at easing military tensions—a move caused by the fallout from Pyongyang’s recent spy satellite launch. The announcement, characterized by the North’s defense ministry, followed claims from state media that leader Kim Jong Un was inspecting images of US military bases in Guam captured by the newly deployed satellite.
In response to Tuesday’s satellite launch, labeled a “brazen violation” of UN sanctions by the United States and its allies, South Korea took action on Wednesday, partially suspending the 2018 deal crafted to mitigate tensions on the Korean peninsula. However, the North Korea, not satisfied with a partial measure, declared on Thursday the complete annulment of the agreement.
The North Korea’s defense ministry, as reported by the state-run KCNA news agency, articulated its stance, vowing to withdraw prior military measures aimed at stopping tensions in various domains—land, sea, and air. Simultaneously, they expressed an intent to deploy more formidable armed forces and cutting-edge military hardware along the Military Demarcation Line, emphasizing a decisive shift in strategic posture.
“We will never be bound” by the agreement again, declared the ministry, solidifying its rejection of the previously established terms. Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo condemned the sanctions-defying launch of the Malligyong-1 satellite, vividly depicted in KCNA images, showcasing a smiling Kim overseeing the event.
This marked Pyongyang’s third go this year to place a satellite in orbit, the first since Kim’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin in September. While Seoul confirmed the satellite’s entry into orbit, its functionality remained uncertain.
The North’s defense ministry, echoing its position on Thursday, framed the satellite launch as a rightful act of self-defense. They dismissed the South’s reply as “extremely hysterical” and accused Seoul of intensifying tensions with increased military aggravations, dismissing the 2018 agreement as a mere “scrap of paper.” The decision by the South to partially suspend the deal was labeled “reckless.”
In a stern warning, the North Korea emphasized that the South would “pay dearly” for its alleged provocations, pushing the condition into an “uncontrollable phase.” Meanwhile, Seoul’s decision to partially suspend the 2018 deal and resume surveillance operations along the border added fuel to the already simmering diplomatic dispute.
According to KCNA, the satellite is slated to commence a formal reconnaissance mission on December 1. Analysts suggest that successfully deploying a spy satellite would significantly enhance North Korea’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, mainly over South Korea, providing crucial data in potential military conflicts.
Washington condemned the launch as a clear violation of UN resolutions, barring the North from testing ballistic technology. This event not only intensified geopolitical tensions but also signaled the beginning of a space race on the Korean peninsula, with Seoul planning its inaugural spy satellite launch via a SpaceX rocket later this month.