North Korea Terminates Military Agreement with South Korea

November 23, 2023 12:06 PM
DPRK NATA’s Report on Successful Launch of Reconnaissance Satellite. KCNA Image

Pyongyang has terminated the 2018 Comprehensive Military Agreement with Seoul in response to South Korea’s decision to suspend a part of the agreement due to North Korea’s satellite launch on Tuesday, North Korea announced on Thursday

The 2018 agreement laid down a number of measures that would lower military tensions and accidental military clashes between the two sides. Among them included the dismantling of guard posts along the Demilitarized Zone, a no-fly zone along the DMZ, the cessation of live fire artillery drills and field exercises above the regiment level and above within three miles of the Military Demarcation Line, with a similar ban on live fire and maritime maneuvers exercise along the maritime borders in the East and West Sea and a ban tactical live-fire drills involving fixed-wing aircraft, including the firing of air-to-ground guided weapons within the designated no-fly zones in the eastern and western regions of the MDL.

On Wednesday, in response to North Korea’s satellite launch, South Korea announced it would suspend Article 1, Paragraph 3 of the agreement and that aerial reconnaissance and surveillance along the demarcation line would be restored. North Korea had been informed of the suspension, officials said.

“Those of the ‘Republic of Korea’ can never evade the responsibility for scrapping the north-south military agreement and must pay dearly for it,” North Korea’s Ministry of National Defence said in a statement on Thursday. In the statement, the North Korean MND said that North Korea’s launch of a military reconnaissance satellite was a legitimate and just exercise of sovereignty to closely monitor its enemies’ various military moves around the Korean peninsula.

Kim Jong Un visits Pyongyang General Control Center of NATA.
KCNA Photo

“Nonetheless, the political and military gangsters of the Republic of Korea have gone extremely hysterical with confrontation, labeling the legal right of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a violation of U.N., ‘resolutions’ and ‘illegal action’, ” reads the statement.

The North Korean MND said that from now on, the North Korean military would not be bound by the CMA and would restore all military activities halted under the agreement.

“We will withdraw the military steps, taken to prevent military tension and conflict in all spheres, including ground, sea and air, and deploy more powerful armed forces and new-type military hardware in the region along the Military Demarcation Line,” reads the statement.
“The DPRK armed forces will always maintain overwhelming and offensive posture and closely watch the enemy’s confrontation hysteria.”

In a parliamentary session on Thursday, South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik warned that “If North Korea stages provocations under the pretext of the suspension, we will respond immediately, strongly and until the end,” according to a ROK MND press release. Shin’s comments were made after the North Korean announcement and during the parliamentary session he stated that North Korea’s launch a clear violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions and a serious provocation against the international community, once again showing it has no will to abide by the military agreement, “In a situation where our military’s surveillance and reconnaissance is limited, North Korea is strengthening its surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities against us through military reconnaissance satellites,” Shin said.

He said South Korea’s partial suspension was an essential measure to protect people’s lives and safety and a corresponding response to North Korea’s provocation along with being a minimal defensive measure. At press time, the United States, ROK and Japan have not yet embarked on any deterrent demonstrations. It is expected that one will be carried out with carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) once the carrier wraps up its port visit in Busan, ROK. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy James Honea are currently in Japan and will head to South Korea next. On Wednesday the CNO met with Japan Defense Minister Minoru Kihara and the Chief of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), Admiral Ryo Sakai while on Thursday the CNO and MCPON celebrated thanksgiving with sailors on board carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), currently docked in its homeport of Yokosuka, Japan.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti eats Thanksgiving dinner with Sailors aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), Nov. 23, 2023. US Navy Photo

Elsewhere China issued a brief statement on Thursday in regard to the U.S- Philippines joint patrol in the South China Sea, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theatre Command spokesperson Col Tian Junli, PLAAF, stated that People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) frigate CNS Yuncheng (571) had been conducting routine patrols in the South China Sea since Tuesday, “during this period, the Philippines co-opted external forces to patrol the South China Sea, stir up trouble and hype it up, undermining regional peace and stability and violating the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. The troops in the theater maintain a high degree of vigilance, resolutely defend national sovereignty, security and maritime rights and interests, and resolutely maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea,” read the statement.

The statement was likely in response to reports on Wednesday by embarked Philippine media on board a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon taking part in the patrol, who reported that during the flight a PLAN frigate was sighted in the Philippines Exclusive Economic Zone shadowing the joint patrol along with a Y-9 aircraft.

A Navy release on the patrol stated that littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) and a P-8A Poseidon of Patrol Squadron (VP) 8 was participating in the maritime cooperative activity (MCA) alongside Philippine Navy frigate Jose Rizal (FF-150), corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) and offshore patrol vessel BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) (ex-USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715)) and two FA-50 fighters and an A-29B Super Tucano light attack aircraft of the Philippine Air Force.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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