|North Korea announced Wednesday that it successfully launched Chollima-1 rocket carrying a reconnaissance satellite called the Malligyong-1./ Source: Yonhap News
AsiaToday reporter Park Young-hoon
North Korea declared the end to a 2018 joint military accord on Thursday, saying it will restore all military measures that have been halted in all spheres including ground, sea, and air, under the pretext of protesting against South Korea’s partial suspension on the inter-Korean military agreement. It also fired a ballistic missile toward the East Sea Wednesday night, launching a surprise attack for two consecutive days. In response, South Korea’s Defense Minister Shin Won-sik warned that it will respond immediately and strongly to a North Korean provocation attributed to South Korea’s partial suspension of the military accord.
South Korea must “pay dearly for their irresponsible and grave political and military provocations that have pushed the present situation to an uncontrollable phase,” North Korea’s Central Military Commission said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). “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 reion along the Military Demarcation Line,” it said.
In response, South Korea’s Defense ministry spokesperson Jeon Ha-kyu said that if North Korea provokes, South Korea will punish the North immediately, strongly, and until the end based on the South Korea-U.S. joint defense posture and capabilities.
The military authorities may choose to suspend the September 19 inter-Korean military agreement as a countermeasure against the North Korean provocation. It might return to the level before the implementation of the agreement, which included withdrawal of 11 front-line guard posts in the Demilitarized Zone and the demilitarization of the Joint Security Area (JSA) in Panmunjom. For now, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, which docked at the South Korean port city of Busan on Tuesday, is expected to take part in South Korea-U.S. and South Korea-U.S.-Japan joint maritime drills this weekend and send a warning message in preparation for further potential provocations by North Korea.
In response to North Korea’s successive provocations, South Korea, the U.S. and Japan are rapidly engaging in trilateral cooperation. After the North launched a spy satellite, Defense Minister Shin reportedly had a phone call with U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Philip Goldberg, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Kim Seung-kyum with U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Paul LaCamera, and South Korea’s Deputy Defense Minister for Poicy Heo Tae-keun with Japan’s Director-General for Defense Policy Koji Kano to discuss the North’s launch.
Meanwhile, Minister Shin said at a plenary session of the National Assembly’s defense committee that North Korea is strengthening its surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities through military reconnaissance satellites at a time when our military’s surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities are limited. “Therefore, the partial suspension of the inter-Korean military agreement is an essential measure to protect people’s lives and safety,” he said.