North Korea is sending troops to its southern border to restore operations to guard posts previously deactivated under an agreement with South Korea in 2018, Seoul’s military said on Monday (27/11).
Pyongyang took the action following its successful launch of a spy satellite that sparked tensions on the peninsula.
In response to the launch last week, Seoul suspended parts of an agreement aimed at easing border hostilities. In response, Pyongyang abandoned the agreement completely and warned that it would “never be bound” by it again.
A South Korean military official told AFP on Monday that Pyongyang recently sent armed personnel and equipment to restore the guard posts.
Yonhap news agency reported that the North Korean military “appeared to be rebuilding guard posts starting Friday”, according to a military official, and 11 posts that had been decommissioned under the five-year agreement were expected to be restored.
In this undated photo provided and released on November 27, 2023, by the South Korean Ministry of Defense, North Korean soldiers set up their guard posts in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in North Korea. (South Korean Ministry of Defense via AP)
One of the photos released by the South Korean military shows four North Korean soldiers rebuilding a wooden guard post in the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two countries.
The accelerated development of North Korea’s weapons program has worried Seoul.
South Korea deployed “surveillance and reconnaissance assets” to the border following the satellite launch, which its military said was an “important step” to defend itself against North Korea’s growing threat.
In response, Pyongyang said it would “deploy stronger armed forces and new types of military hardware in areas along the Military Demarcation Line” between the two Koreas.
Nuclear-armed North Korea is prohibited by a series of UN resolutions from conducting tests using ballistic technology, and analysts say there is significant technological overlap between its space launch capabilities and ballistic missile development.
Last week’s “Malligyong-1” launch was Pyongyang’s third attempt to have a military surveillance capability in space after two failures in May and August.
The launch drew condemnation from the international community, including the United States and South Korea, for its “destabilizing effect in the region”.
Pyongyang said the launch was “part of its country’s right to lawful and fair self-defense” according to a foreign ministry statement released by KCNA on Monday.
Successfully placing a spy satellite into orbit would enhance South Korea’s ability to gather intelligence, particularly regarding South Korea, and provide critical data in any military conflict, experts say. (ab/uh)