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US says S. Korea's partial suspension of 2018 inter-Korean military accord 'prudent,' 'restrained' move

Nov. 23, 2023 - 10:05 By Yonhap
A US U-2S high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft heads to land at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 65 kilometers south of Seoul, on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The United States regards South Korea's partial suspension of a 2018 inter-Korean military tension reduction agreement as a "prudent" and "restrained" response to North Korea's repeated violations of it, the State Department said Wednesday.

South Korea suspended part of the Comprehensive Military Agreement on Wednesday in response to Pyongyang's launch of a space rocket Tuesday. North Korea said later that it will "never be bound" by it and deploy "more powerful armed forces and new-type military hardware" along the inter-Korean border.

"The ROK-DPRK Comprehensive Military Agreement has helped reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula, but the DPRK's failure to adhere to the agreement has created untenable challenges for the ROK's security," a State Department spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency via email.

ROK and DPRK stand for the official names of South Korea and North Korea -- the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, respectively.

"We view the ROK's decision to suspend the implementation of one provision of the CMA as a prudent and restrained response to persistent DPRK violations of the agreement," the spokesperson added.

The official also said that the suspension will restore surveillance and reconnaissance activities along the South Korean side of the Military Demarcation Line separating the two Koreas, thus improving the South's ability to monitor North Korean threats.

"The United States supports efforts to manage and reduce military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and across the globe through military coordination, transparency and risk reduction measures," the spokesperson said.

Hours after the North's rocket launch, South Korea held an extraordinary Cabinet meeting to partially suspend the CMA and restore reconnaissance and surveillance activities around the inter-Korean border. President Yoon Suk Yeol electronically approved the motion later as he was on a state visit to Britain.

Signed on Sept. 19, 2018, under the previous liberal administration of President Moon Jae-in, the CMA calls for halting all hostile military activity between the Koreas, setting up maritime buffer zones and turning the Demilitarized Zone into a peace zone, among other things. (Yonhap)