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N.Korea suspends military accord with South after satellite launch

North Korea said Thursday it was suspending a five-year-old accord reached with South Korea to reduce military tensions -- the latest retaliatory fallout over Pyongyang's spy satellite launch.


The angry statement from the nuclear-armed North‘s defence ministry came after state media claimed leader Kim Jong Un was already reviewing images of US military bases in Guam sent by Pyongyang’s new eye in the sky.

With the United States leading allies in slamming Tuesday’s satellite launch as a “brazen violation” of UN sanctions, the South moved Wednesday to partially suspend the 2018 deal, a series of measures put in place to cool tensions on the Korean peninsula.

On Thursday the North said it was ripping up the agreement entirely.

“We will withdraw the military steps, taken to prevent military tension and conflict in all spheres including ground, sea and air, and deploy more powerful armed forces and new-type military hardware in the region along the Military Demarcation Line,” the  ministry said, according to state-run KCNA news agency.

The ministry said it “will never be bound” by the deal again, according to KCNA.

Washington, Seoul and Tokyo have slammed the sanctions-busting launch of the Malligyong-1 satellite, which KCNA images showed was watched by a smiling Kim.

It was Pyongyang’s third attempt this year to put a satellite into orbit, and the first since Kim met President Vladimir Putin at a Russian cosmodrome in September.

Seoul’s military said the satellite has entered orbit, but warned it was too early to tell if it was working.

The North‘s defence ministry repeated Thursday that the satellite launch was part of its “right to self-defence”, and dismissed the “extremely hysterical” response from the South in particular.

It accused the South of putting the deal under strain by stepping up military provocations, saying the agreement has “long been reduced to a mere scrap of paper”, and called Seoul’s decision to partially suspend it “reckless”, according to KCNA.

The South “must pay dearly for their irresponsible and grave political and military provocations that have pushed the present situation to an uncontrollable phase,” the ministry continued.

The South had said it would partially suspend the 2018 deal and resume surveillance operations along the border.

KCNA has said the satellite will begin a formal reconnaissance mission on December 1.

Successfully putting a spy satellite into orbit would improve North Korea‘s intelligence-gathering capabilities, particularly over South Korea, and provide crucial data in any military conflict, experts say.

Washington said the launch was a “brazen violation” of successive rounds of UN resolutions barring the North from tests of ballistic technology — used in both missiles and satellite launch rockets.

The launch also appears to kick off a space race on the peninsula, experts said, with Seoul planning to launch its first spy satellite via a SpaceX rocket later this month.

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