Tensions rise as North Korea reinstalls border guard posts
North Korea has initiated the reconstruction of previously dismantled front-line guard posts, as disclosed by South Korea’s military on Monday. This action follows heightened tensions between the two Koreas stemming from North Korea’s recent launch of a spy satellite. The ongoing animosity puts at risk a 2018 inter-Korean agreement, which saw the dismantling or disarming of 11 guard posts within the heavily fortified border, known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), as part of an effort to ease military confrontations.
The 2018 agreement mandated the cessation of aerial surveillance and live-fire exercises in specified no-fly and buffer zones along the DMZ, along with the removal of certain front-line guard posts and landmines. South Korea retained 50 border guard posts, while North Korea retained 150. However, both nations are now openly contemplating breaching this accord.
In response to North Korea’s claim of placing its inaugural military spy satellite in orbit on November 21, South Korea announced a partial suspension of the agreement, reinstating aerial surveillance along the DMZ. South Korea justified this move as a “minimum defensive measure,” citing North Korea’s demonstrated intent to enhance surveillance of the South and improve its missile technology.
“promptly and strongly punish”
North Korea swiftly condemned South Korea’s decision, vowing to deploy formidable weapons at the border in a tit-for-tat response and declaring its intent to no longer abide by the 2018 deal. South Korea’s Defense Ministry reported on Monday that it observed North Korea constructing guard posts at locations where they had been previously dismantled, deploying troops and heavy weaponry.
President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea directed the military to closely monitor North Korea and maintain a robust state of readiness. The Defense Ministry affirmed its readiness to “promptly and strongly punish” North Korea for any provocations. The United Nations Security Council resolutions prohibit North Korea from conducting satellite launches, considering them a cover for testing long-range missile technology. North Korea argues that it has sovereign rights to launch spy satellites in response to perceived escalating U.S.-led military threats.