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South Korea to completely suspend military pact with northern neighbor over trash balloons



South Korea to completely suspend military pact with northern neighbor over trash balloons

After North Korea sent hundreds of garbage-filled balloons across the southern border, Seoul announced it would completely suspend a 2018 military deal to reduce tensions with nuclear-armed Pyongyang. Seoul partially suspended the deal last year after North Korea placed a spy satellite in orbit. However, the National Security Council said it would ask the government to “suspend the full implementation of the September 19 military agreement until mutual trust between the two Koreas is restored.”

South Korea’s National Security Council announced Monday that Seoul will completely suspend a military agreement reached in 2018 to reduce tensions with… Pyongyang The nuclear armed forces, after the latter sent hundreds of balloons filled with waste across the border.

Seoul partially suspended the deal last year after North Korea placed a spy satellite in orbit. However, the National Security Council said it would ask the government to “suspend the full implementation of the September 19 military agreement until mutual trust between the two Koreas is restored.”

Over the past week, it has launched about a thousand balloons, including 600 on Sunday, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Seoul condemned the behavior, calling it “despicable” and “irrational.” But unlike the recent wave of ballistic missile launches, the trash balloons do not violate U.N. sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s isolated government.

In Washington, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller called trash balloons “a disgusting, irresponsible and childish tactic that must stop.”

On Sunday, North Korea pledged to “temporarily suspend” balloon shipments, indicating that the “countermeasure” was effective.

In 2018, during a period of detente between the two countries, the two leaders agreed to a “complete cessation of all hostilities against each other in all areas.”

But after Seoul partially suspended the deal in November last year to protest Pyongyang’s successful launch of a spy satellite, North Korea said it would never honor the agreement.

As a result, Seoul’s National Security Council declared that the agreement was “virtually null and void as North Korea has declared de facto abandonment”, but that committing to the rest of the agreement deprives the South of its ability to respond to threats such as balloons.

She added that compliance with the agreement “results in major problems in our military preparedness, particularly in the context of a series of recent provocations by North Korea, which pose real damage and threaten our citizens.”

She added that this measure will allow “military training in areas surrounding the military demarcation line” and will also allow “a more effective and immediate response to North Korea’s provocations.”

The decision must be approved by the Council of Ministers scheduled for Tuesday before coming into force.

Ban balloons?

Inter-Korean relations are at their lowest level in years, with diplomacy long faltering and Kim Jong Un stepping up weapons testing and development, while Seoul moves closer to Washington.

Hong Min, a senior analyst at South Korea’s Korea Institute for National Unification, said Seoul’s decision to scrap the 2018 de-escalation deal shows that “it will not tolerate trash balloons flying over across the border, taking into account international standards. and the terms of the truce.

“However, it could still provoke Pyongyang when it is impossible to prevent balloons from drifting south in the air,” he added, explaining: “The security of citizens cannot be guaranteed by such measures, while she can wait for the situation to calm down and look for ways to resolve it.” .

According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the balloons did not contain hazardous materials, but they landed in northern provinces including the capital, Seoul, and the neighboring region of Gyeonggi, which together are home to nearly half of the South Korean population.

South Korean officials have not ruled out Seoul responding to the balloons by resuming its propaganda campaigns via loudspeakers along the border with North Korea.

South Korea has in the past spread anti-Kim propaganda to the North, angering Pyongyang, with experts warning its resumption could lead to skirmishes along the border.

France 24/AFP

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