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South Korea Mulls Ending Military Deal With North Korea After Drone Incursion Near Presidential Office

South Korea will consider terminating a 2018 inter-Korean military agreement if North Korea’s military makes further incursions into its airspace, according to a South Korean official, following the North’s recent drone intrusion.

North Korea sent five drones across the Demarcation Line separating the two Koreas on Dec. 26, with one drone briefly entering a 3.7-kilometer (2.2 miles) radius no-fly zone surrounding South Korea’s presidential office.

“It briefly flew into the northern edge of the zone, but it did not come close to key security facilities,” a South Korean military official told Yonhap News Agency on the condition of anonymity.

The incursion prompted South Korea to deploy fighter jets and fire about 100 rounds at the drones, but none were shot down while they flew over South Korean cities for hours.

Press Secretary Kim Eun-hye said that President Yoon Suk-yeol has demanded that South Korea’s military develop an “overwhelming response capability that goes beyond a proportionate response to North Korea’s provocations.”

Yoon requested that the Defense Ministry establish a joint drone unit for surveillance operations, develop stealth drones, and mass-produce small drones by the end of the year.

Kim said the president also urged his aides to consider terminating the inter-Korean military deal if North Korea continues to invade South Korea’s territory.

“President Yoon Suk-yeol instructed the National Security Office to consider suspending the Sept. 19 military agreement in the event North Korea carries out another provocation violating our territory,” Kim told reporters on Wednesday.

The agreement was signed by former South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2018 to end military hostilities between their nations. Termination of the agreement could result in the resumption of live-fire drills along the demarcation line.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas on April 27, 2018. (Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters)

The United States said it was concerned about North Korea’s disregard for the 2018 inter-Korea military agreement, citing North Korea’s series of drone and missile provocations against its ally South Korea.

“We are concerned about the DPRK’s apparent disregard of the 2018 Comprehensive Military Agreement and we call on it to end its irresponsible and escalatory behavior,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters, using North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Joint Nuclear Exercise Claim

In an earlier report, Yoon claimed that South Korea and the United States were in talks for possible joint exercises using U.S. nuclear assets, and that the U.S. side was “quite positive” about the idea.

But President Joe Biden refuted such claims. When asked if the two allies were in talks regarding joint nuclear exercises at a White House press briefing on Monday, Biden replied, “No,” without elaborating.

In response, Kim said that Biden “had no choice but to say ‘No’” during the press briefing because joint nuclear exercises could only be conducted between nuclear weapons states, and South Korea is not one.

Kim clarified that they were discussing “information sharing, joint planning, and joint execution plans regarding the operation of U.S. nuclear assets in order to counter North Korea’s nuclear threats,” according to local reports.

‘Monster Missile’

North Korea fired an unprecedented number of missiles last year, one of which involved a Hwasong-17, which experts dubbed a “monster missile” capable of striking anywhere in the United States and beyond.

North Korea Koreas Tensions
North Korea Koreas Tensions
A test-fire of a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), at an undisclosed location in North Korea, on March 24, 2022. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

During his interview with Chosun Ilbo on Monday, Yoon said the U.S. strategy of providing a “nuclear umbrella” or “extended deterrence” to South Korea is not reassuring enough to guarantee public safety now that North Korea has developed its own nuclear weapons.

“In the past, the concept of a nuclear umbrella or extended deterrence was preparation against the Soviet Union and China before North Korea developed nuclear weapons, and a way of the U.S. telling us not to worry because it will take care of everything,” he said.

“Now, it is difficult to convince our people with just that. The U.S. government understands this to some degree,” Yoon added.

When asked about the possibility of nuclear sharing between South Korea and the United States, Yoon claimed that “the word nuclear sharing actually feels burdensome for the United States.”

“Instead, if South Korea and the U.S. develop a plan for the operation of nuclear forces based on shared information, as well as the concept of joint exercises, training, and operations, it will be as effective as nuclear sharing,” he said.

Aldgra Fredly

Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.

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