(Update 1: Changes head, lede, rewrites throughout)
Seoul, Nov 23 (EFE).- South Korea’s Defense Minister Shin Won-sik on Thursday said Seoul’s decision to partially suspend the military agreement it signed five years ago with Pyongyang was a “minimal defensive measure” and a “proportional response” to the North’s recent launch of a spy satellite.
Shin described the launch, carried out on Tuesday night and before the time window communicated by North Korea, as a “clear violation of the UN Security Council resolutions,” which prohibit the use of ballistic missile technology, and said it showed once again that Pyongyang “has no will to abide by the military agreement.”
“Therefore, the partial suspension of the agreement is an essential measure to protect people’s lives and safety. It is a corresponding response to North Korea’s provocation and a minimal defensive measure,” the minister said during a parliamentary session on Thursday, local news agency Yonhap reported.
Shortly after South Korea’s suspension of certain parts of the agreement came into force on Wednesday, the country deployed drones and reconnaissance aircraft in border areas, military sources said.
Shin’s comments came hours after North Korea announced that it was pulling out of the 2018 military pact and warned that the South would “pay dearly” for its decision.
It also launched a ballistic missile late Wednesday, which “is presumed to have failed,” according to a statement from the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“If North Korea stages provocations under the pretext of the suspension, we will respond immediately, strongly and until the end,” the South Korean defense minister added.
The military agreement, signed in Pyongyang in September 2018 during the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and then South Korean President Moon Jae-in, was an important step towards reducing military tension around the border between the two countries, which are technically still at war.
However, after the failure of denuclearization negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington in 2019, tensions in the region have gradually escalated to new historic heights.
Pyongyang approved a weapons modernization plan in 2021 and since then, it has carried out many missile tests, in addition to rejecting the resumption of dialogue and seeking closer ties with Beijing and Moscow.
Meanwhile, Seoul and Washington have strengthened military cooperation with Tokyo as well as their deterrence mechanism by the repeated deployment of US strategic assets, such as aircraft carriers and bombers, to the Korean peninsula. EFE