Seoul, November 20
South Korea’s military warned North Korea not to go ahead with its planned spy satellite launch, suggesting on Monday that Seoul could suspend an inter-Korean peace deal and resume frontline aerial surveillance in retaliation for a launch.
North Korea failed in its first two attempts to put a military spy satellite into orbit earlier this year and didn’t follow through with a vow to make a third attempt in October. South Korean officials said the delay was likely because North Korea is receiving Russian technological assistance and that the North could conduct a launch in the coming days.
Senior South Korean military officer Kang Hopil urged North Korea to cancel its third launch attempt immediately.
“Our military will come up with necessary measures to protect the lives and safety of the people, if North Korea pushes ahead with a military spy satellite launch despite our warning,” Kang said in a televised statement.
South Korean Defence Minister Shin Wonsik said in an interview with public broadcaster KBS on Sunday the launch was expected later this month and that South Korean and US authorities were monitoring North Korea’s moves.
The UN Security Council bans any satellite launches by North Korea because it views them as a disguised test of its missile technology. Kang said while North Korea needs a spy satellite to improve its monitoring of South Korea, its launch is also aimed at bolstering its long-range missile programme.
South Korea has accused North Korea of receiving Russian technologies to enhance its nuclear and other military capabilities in return for supplying conventional arms to support Russia’s war in Ukraine. Both Moscow and Pyongyang have dismissed as groundless the alleged arms transfer deal, but both nations — locked in separate, protracted security tensions with the United States — have been openly pushing to expand bilateral cooperation.