South Korea to partially suspend inter-Korean military pact with North

South Korea on Wednesday approved the partial suspension of an inter-Korean military accord signed in 2018 following North Korea’s latest launch of a military spy satellite.

As a result of the move, South Korea will resume aerial reconnaissance and surveillance operations in the demilitarized zone separating the two countries at 3 p.m., the defense ministry said.

Suspending the part of the accord that prohibits flying in airspace above the military demarcation line would enhance the South Korean military’s ability to respond to the North’s move and identify targets in the country, Prime Minister Han Duck Soo said.

The move came after North Korea launched a military reconnaissance satellite in its third attempt this year. Pyongyang’s previous launches in May and August ended in failure.

President Yoon Suk Yeol, who is currently visiting Britain, approved the proposal following a Cabinet approval at an extraordinary meeting held by Han.

North Korea’s latest launch “clearly shows that it has no intention to abide by the Sept. 19 Military Agreement designed to reduce military tension on the Korean Peninsula and build trust,” Han said during the meeting.

The agreement was signed on Sept. 19, 2018, by Yoon’s predecessor Moon Jae In and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with the aim of halting hostile military activity between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Yonhap News Agency reported Wednesday that South Korea is in talks with the United States and Japan about holding a joint maritime drill involving a U.S. aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula, in response to the satellite launch by North Korea, citing South Korean government sources.

The navies of South Korea and the United States will be joined by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in the drill likely to take place Sunday, with the Carl Vinson, the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, participating in the exercise, the sources said, according to the report.

South Korea and the United States are slated to hold a bilateral naval drill Saturday, the report said.

The Carl Vinson entered Busan port on Tuesday, according to South Korea’s Navy. A U.S. nuclear-powered submarine named Santa Fe also arrived in Jeju Island, southern South Korea, on Wednesday.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga