North Korea issued a blistering response on Thursday to South Korea’s decision to suspend a 2018 military agreement aimed at reducing tensions on the peninsula, saying through the KCNA news agency, “From now on, our army will never be bound by the September 19 North-South Military Agreement.”
It further added that “[North Korea] will immediately restore all military measures that have been halted according to the North-South military agreement.” It cautioned Seoul that Pyongyang will hold it solely responsible for any armed clashes that occur on the Korean peninsula and further vowed to “deploy more powerful armed forces and new-type military hardware in the region along the Military Demarcation Line.”
This was in response to a decision by South Korea to pause Article 1, Clause 3 of the agreement and renew reconnaissance and surveillance activities along the border. According to the South Korean Ministry of Defense, its military will “restore aerial surveillance and reconnaissance activities for signs of North Korean provocations in the area of the Military Demarcation Line.” It further blamed North Korea for the rising tension and warned that “if North Korea carries out additional provocations, our military will immediately, strongly, and to the end punish any provocations by North Korea based on the solid ROK-US joint defense posture.”
The fate of the North-South family reunification program remains uncertain, with neither party having directly commented on the issue.
The current dispute stemmed from North Korea’s launch of a reconnaissance satellite on Wednesday, which UN Secretary-General António Guterres has condemned as a breach of UN Security Council resolutions on ballistic launches, stemming back to Resolution 1695 in 2006. North Korea claimed that the “launch of a reconnaissance satellite is a step pertaining to the right to self-defense and the legitimate and just exercise of sovereignty to closely monitor and thoroughly cope with the enemies’ various military moves around the Korean peninsula.”
Relations between North and South Korea have steadily deteriorated since the election of the hawkish Yoon Suk Yeol in 2022. Earlier this month, South Korea announced its own intentions to launch spy satellites on November 30, 2023.