Turmoil between North and South Korea

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un meets with members of the Non-Standing Satellite Launch Preparation Committee, in this picture released by the Korean Central News Agency on November 24, 2023. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korea has declared its intention to deploy additional troops and military equipment to the South Korean border, renouncing the 2018 joint military accord that Seoul partially suspended in response to North Korea’s launch of a military spy satellite. North Korean state media reported yesterday that North Korea will no longer adhere to the agreement.

The Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA), established during a 2018 summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former South Korean President Moon Jae-in to reduce tensions and foster trust, has been jeopardized. Seoul’s partial withdrawal from the deal on Wednesday came after North Korea claimed the successful launch of the Malligyong-1 satellite into orbit, following earlier failures in May and August.

In a statement conveyed by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the Defense Ministry announced that North Korea will immediately restore all military measures that have been halted according to military agreement. It further outlined plans to withdraw preventive military actions and tensions, reinstating a formidable armed presence and advanced military hardware along the Military Demarcation Line.

North Korea asserted that South Korea must “pay dearly for their irresponsible and grave political and military provocations that have pushed the present situation to an uncontrollable phase.”

There is an increase in risk resulting from the collapse of the agreement. South Korea’s technological advantage could lead to more sophisticated surveillance and exercises near the border. Without the agreement, North Korea might exhibit less restraint in its weapons deployments and manoeuvers, potentially escalating the risk of conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

State media reported on Wednesday that Kim had already reviewed imagery from the satellite, capturing U.S. military bases in the Pacific island of Guam. Kim views the development of reconnaissance satellites as vital to North Korea’s military modernization, enhancing its ability to monitor neighbours and address perceived threats from South Korea and the U.S.

The Malligyong-1 launch, conducted on Tuesday night without prior notification to Japan, violated UN Security Council sanctions prohibiting such actions to curb North Korea’s ballistic missile program. The launch prompted swift condemnation from South Korea, Japan, the U.S., and the United Nations. In response, South Korea partially suspended the 2018 agreement on Wednesday, resuming surveillance operations on its northern border.

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