S. Korea Considers Suspension of Deconfliction Agreement with N. Korea Because of Hamas Attack

by | Oct 12, 2023

S. Korea Considers Suspension of Deconfliction Agreement with N. Korea Because of Hamas Attack

by | Oct 12, 2023

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South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-shik is pushing Seoul to abandon a 2018 agreement that reduced the military presence along the demilitarized zone (DMZ). The military official believes North Korea could use tactics similar to Hamas to attack South Korea. The potential for Seoul to walk away from the deal meant to reduce tension on the peninsula comes as the chances for military confrontation between the US and North Korea has skyrocketed under the Joe Biden administration. 

Shin, who was appointed as Defense Minister on Saturday, argued that withdrawing from the agreement was necessary. “Hamas has attacked Israel, and the Republic of Korea is under a much stronger threat,” he said. “To counter (that threat), we need to be observing (North Korean military movements) with our surveillance assets, to gain prior knowledge of whether they are preparing provocations or not. If Israel had flown aircraft and drones to maintain continuous monitoring, I think they might have not been hit like that.” 

It is unclear why Shin believes North Korea, a nuclear power, would utilize the same tactics as Hamas, a stateless militia. 

The 2018 agreement signed between then-South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un created a buffer zone along the DMZ that prevents military confrontations. The deal was inked during a period of warning relations on the Korean Peninsula that was driven by Moon, and fostered by then-President Donald Trump’s willingness to reduce the American military presence and war games in South Korea. 

However, President Biden and Yoon have taken a more aggressive approach. Washington and Seoul have conducted several rounds of provocative military drills. Additionally, the White House has committed to deploying more weapons that can launch nuclear weapons to South Korea. 

On Thursday, the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, and the fleet of warships in its strike group, arrived in South Korea. The ships will conduct trilateral war games with Japan and South Korea. 

North Korea sees trilateral military operations between Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul as the White House attempting to create an “Asian NATO.” Officials in Pyongyang have repeatedly warned that the US-led military activity on the Korean Peninsula is pushing the region towards a nuclear war.

About Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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