Conflicts & War

Seoul mulls scrapping 2018 pact with Pyongyang after drone incursion

Seoul, Jan 4 (EFE).- South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol on Wednesday ordered officials to consider suspending the agreement signed between the two Koreas to ease military tensions if North Korea violated the country’s airspace again.

Last week, the North Korean regime sent five drones into the South’s airspace.

Yoon made these remarks at a briefing with members of the National Security Office, the defense ministry, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) on South Korea’s anti-drone preparations, local news agency Yonhap reported.

“President Yoon Suk Yeol instructed the National Security Office to consider suspending the Sept. 19 military agreement in the event North Korea carries out another provocation violating our territory,” his press secretary, Kim Eun-hye, told reporters.

The agreement, signed in Pyongyang in September 2018 between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and then South Korean President Moon Jae-in, was a historic step towards reducing tensions between the two neighbors, which have been technically at war for over six decades as the Korean War had ended with an armistice and not a peace agreement.

Under the pact, the two countries agreed to suspend maneuvers along the military demarcation line and also withdraw 11 guard posts each from the Demilitarized Zone.

They also agreed to establish a no-fly zone along the dividing line and a maritime buffer zone in the East and West Seas, where artillery firing and naval drills were to be suspended.

According to Kim, Yoon has also asked Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup to establish a drone unit to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance missions and develop small, stealth drones by the end of the year.

The incursion by the North Korean drones on Dec. 26 has sparked criticism of Seoul’s military capabilities to repel these unmanned aerial vehicles.

On that day, five North Korean drones crossed the inter-Korean border and one of them even flew over northern Seoul before returning to the North.

The South deployed planes and helicopters to track and shoot down the other four around Ganghwa Island, off the western maritime border, but eventually lost track of them due to their small size.

Tensions are at an all-time high on the peninsula, where Pyongyang has carried out a record number of weapons tests this year, and Seoul and Washington have resumed major military maneuvers and the temporary deployment of US strategic assets. EFE


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