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| 2 March 2024, Saturday |

North Korea rushes troops, heavy weapons near border after South scraps military pact

The tensions between North Korea and South Korea escalated big time over the weekend as it was reported Monday (Nov 27) that Pyongyang has rushed its troops near the border with the South.
Citing Yonhap news agency, Reuters reported that North Korea has deployed ‘soldiers and heavy weapons at guard posts’ following the suspension of a military pact between the two nations.
It all started when North Korea, as per claims, launched a spy satellite into space last Tuesday (Nov 21). This prompted Seoul to partially suspend the 2018 inter-Korean pact designed to reduce military tensions on the Korean peninsula, saying it would resume surveillance flights along the border.

Responding to this move, Pyongyang announced Thursday (Nov 23) that it was completely withdrawing from the pact.

A statement from the defence ministry, carried by state media KCNA, said its forces “will not be bound” by the agreement and that all military measures “will be restored immediately.”

It added that South Korea would be forced to “pay dearly” for its decision to withdraw from part of the agreement.

What’s behind North Korea’s bold stance?
North Korea’s highly contentious missile programme is believed to have received fresh blessings from Moscow.

According to South Korean intelligence agencies, Russia provided technical assistance to North Korea for Tuesday’s launch of a rocket that put its “Malligyong-1″ spy satellite into orbit.
South Korea had warned before the launch that if the North defied international requests not to go ahead with the deployment of the satellite, it would have little choice but to reconsider the 2018 agreement signed by Kim and then-South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Experts say the agreement was ‘already defunct’
Experts believe that while the military pact was already ‘defunct, the recent episode is still likely to escalate tensions between the hostile neighbours.

RahJong-yil, a former diplomat and senior South Korean intelligence officer, was quoted by DW as saying, “I would say that the ending of the agreement itself is not all that significant, largely because the North has been repeatedly violating the terms of the deal for the last few years anyway.”

“And now they have put a reconnaissance satellite into orbit, you could argue that much of the 2018 agreement was meaningless anyway,” he added.

“Now, we have to pay attention to the developments they are making with their weapons, which the North describes as its ‘three-dimensional capability’,” he said. “We know they are investing heavily in nuclear weapons, long-range missiles — including submarine-launched missiles — and space weapons. This is the challenge we must focus on now.”

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