Amid Inter-Korea Border Tensions, South Korea Suspends Key Elements of 2018 Military Pact

Amid Inter-Korea Border Tensions, South Korea Suspends Key Elements of 2018 Military Pact

Last Updated: November 22, 2023, 11:41 IST

Earlier in May and August, North Korea's efforts to put a spy satellite into orbit failed. (Reuters File Photo)

Earlier in May and August, North Korea’s efforts to put a spy satellite into orbit failed. (Reuters File Photo)

South Korea suspends key aspects of the 2018 military agreement with North Korea amid rising tensions, risking the landmark deal designed to prevent border clashes

South Korea said on Wednesday it would suspend parts of a 2018 military agreement with North Korea designed to curb the risk of inadvertent clashes along their shared border, in response to Pyongyang’s claim to have successfully launched a spy satellite.

Among the concrete steps stemming from the move, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said South Korea would immediately resume reconnaissance of the North’s forces in border areas. Such surveillance had been curtailed under the pact, South Korean officials said.


The so-called Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA) signed between the two Koreas in 2018 was the most substantive deal to result from months of historic meetings between leader Kim Jong Un and then-South Korean President Moon Jae-in. On Sept. 19, 2018, South Korea’s defence minister and his North Korean counterpart signed the CMA in the North’s capital, Pyongyang, accompanied by polite applause from the onlooking leaders.

Under the CMA, both countries agreed to “completely cease all hostile acts against each other” that are the source of military tension and conflict, by implementing military confidence-building measures in the air, land, and sea domains. The measures included the two sides ending military drills near the border, banning live-fire exercises in certain areas, the imposition of no-fly zones, the removal of some guard posts along the Demilitarized Zone, and maintaining hotlines.

On the ground, both sides agreed to completely cease artillery drills and field training within 5 kilometres (3 miles) of the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) between the countries. At sea, the two sides installed covers on the barrels of naval guns and coastal artillery and closed gun ports in a buffer zone along the sea border.


With inter-Korean and denuclearisation talks long stalled, recent drills and shows of force along the fortified border between the Koreas have cast doubts on the future of the measures, which were meant to reduce tensions. South Korea had accused Pyongyang of violating the agreement after North Korean artillery shells fell into a maritime buffer zone that was supposed to be free of live-fire drills under the agreement.

The North then said South Korea had resumed the use of propaganda loudspeakers at the border in violation of the agreement. South Korea denied the accusation. Kim Myung-soo, nominee for South Korea’s chairman of joint chiefs of staff, said last week that the 2018 agreement limited his military’s surveillance of North Korea and live-fire drills near the maritime border.


South Korea’s national security council said on Tuesday it planned to “suspend the effect of Article 1, Clause 3” of the 2018 military agreement, enabling Seoul to restore reconnaissance and surveillance activities along the border.

Under that clause, both countries agreed to establish no-fly zones close to their border. South Korea’s military will restart aerial surveillance in border areas, which had been conducted before the agreement was signed, the defence ministry said. South Korea said, however, its decisions on whether to take further actions to pull out of the military agreement would depend on the North’s follow-up moves.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – Reuters)

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