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North Korea warns war with South ‘a matter of time’ after key pact scrapped

Kim Jong-un at the Fifth National Mothers' Congress in Pyongyang
Kim Jong-un pictured at the Fifth National Mothers' Congress in Pyongyang - AFP

North Korea’s state media on Sunday warned that a “physical clash and war” have become a matter of time after the scrapping of a key military pact designed to reduce tensions with the South.

The 2018 agreement, which aimed to reduce the chance of accidental military escalation along the highly-militarised border, fell apart late last month after Pyongyang breached international sanctions by launching a military spy satellite.

Pyongyang has since claimed to have used the satellite to take images of the White House, Pentagon, US and British warships and military bases in South Korea and Japan.

Since the collapse of the 2018 deal, both North and South have pledged to intensify surveillance activities along the border and armed North Korean soldiers have been spotted reinstating outposts.

A photo published by the South’s Yonhap news agency revealed that artillery positions were also reopened last week on North Korea’s Jangjae island, near the South’s coastline.

The latest threats, carried by the country’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, cited a military commentator as saying “the physical clash and war on the Korean Peninsula have become a matter of time, not possibility.”

The unnamed commentator added that “any hostile act” would lead to the “total collapse” of South Korea, while justifying the North’s satellite launch as the country’s “legitimate and just right” as a sovereign state.

The North’s defence ministry warned over the weekend that any attack on its space assets by the United States would be “deemed a declaration of war.”

In a statement on KCNA it said: “The US Space Force’s deplorable hostility toward the DPRK’s reconnaissance satellite can never be overlooked as it is just a challenge to the sovereignty of the DPRK, and more exactly, a declaration of war against it.”

The DPRK stands for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea.

The report claimed the warning followed an alleged, and as yet unverified, comment by an unnamed US Space Command official hinting at a military attack on the satellite, said CNN.

The November 21 launch was internationally condemned over concerns it was a “clear violation” of a UN Security Council resolution that prohibits North Korea from using ballistic missile technology.

Pyongyang claims the satellite is intended to monitor US and South Korean military activities and has countered that if the technology is regarded as a “military threat” that the US must also destroy its “countless spy satellites” above the Korean Peninsula.

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