Photograph: YONHAP/THE KOREA HERALD
Seoul condemns ‘provocative acts’ as tensions rise after the launch of a spy satellite in defiance of UN sanctions.
After the countries’ withdrawal from a key confidence-building agreement designed to prevent a war, North Korea has initiated rebuilding guard posts and stationing heavy weapons along its border with South Korea, the defence ministry in Seoul has said.
Media reports cited that they had seen South Korean military troops detected from the North repairing camouflaged guard posts that the regime had destroyed as part of a comprehensive military agreement in 2018, designed to lower the risk of a confrontation along the heavily armed demilitarised zone (DMZ).
The DMZ has divided the two countries since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War and is seen as a potential flashpoint in any future inter-Korean conflict.
The North Korean soldiers had been digging trenches at sites along the border and the regime had sent heavy weapons to the area, according to South Korea’s military.
Eleven guard posts were dismantled by neighbours as part of the 2018 deal. In contrast, both sides are ready to ditch the agreement after a recent rise in tensions triggered by the North’s launch last Tuesday of a spy satellite in defiance of UN sanctions.
Pyongyang said in response that it would deploy powerful weapons near the border and walk away from the agreement.
“Our military will closely monitor North Korea’s provocative acts while maintaining full readiness to be able to immediately retaliate to North Korea’s provocations … based on our strengthened combined posture with the US,” the ministry said, according to the Yonhap news agency.
North Korea’s threat to launch more satellites violates the UN Security Council sanctions because it incorporates technology used in long-range ballistic missiles.
In a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency on Monday, North Korea’s foreign ministry dismissed condemnation of the satellite launch from the US and nine other members of the UN Security Council.
The organisation said the launch was “a legal and just way to exercise its right to defend itself and thoroughly respond to and precisely monitor … serious military action by the US and its followers.”
The satellite had, confirmed by South Korean officials, entered orbit. They said they needed time to determine if the satellite was functioning correctly, and there is speculation that the technological assistance from Russia made the launch possible. This assistance was likely exchanged for North Korean ammunition to support the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.
Editor: Vicky Muzio
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