KOREAN PENINSULA: Tensions rising after satellite launch

Category: News - Author: NSSG

KOREAN PENINSULA: Tensions rising after satellite launch

Cross-border tensions are ratcheting up after North Korea claimed it had successfully launched a military spy satellite into orbit. On Monday, 21 November, the North Korean state news agency KCNA announced the launch, adding that this would be the first of several spy satellites that will be launched in the near future.

South Korea, Japan and the US condemned the launch, citing violation of UN resolutions that prohibit technology that could be used to advance Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. However, all three states have yet to confirm a successful launch.

In response, Seoul announced that it was considering partial suspension of inter-Korean dialogue and reinvigorating front-line aerial reconnaissance activities against North Korea. The latter would represent an escalation as well as a retrenchment of a 2018 inter-Korean accord that established a buffer and no-fly zone along their shared border and halted live-fire exercises.

The launch undoubtedly signals Pyongyang’s intentions to push forward with its nuclear development ambitions, elevating geopolitical tensions regionally and posing uncertainties over regional stability in 2024. As concerns remain high over China-Taiwan tensions, which is unlikely to abate next year, Pyongyang’s technological development is achieving milestones that is forcing South Korea, Japan and the US to reassess its posture. If the satellite launch is confirmed as successful, then the South would more than likely follow through on its threats to repeal measures in the 2018 agreement.

Furthermore, South Korea has already succeeded in launching submarine-based ballistic missiles twice in 2022. There is credible potential for the North to accelerate its nuclear and missile technology development in 2024 in light of stronger cooperation with Russia.

Another risk area to consider is in the cyber domain, where North Korea has proven capability to conduct debilitating cyber espionage and cyber criminal activities to advance its geopolitical objectives.

Zero-day exploits targeting cloud services will be the main focus, placing financial institutions, businesses, and research institutions with valuable information capable of helping Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions at considerable risk. For 2024, the level of hostile cyber activities will continue to be shaped by ongoing tensions and conflicts as well as major events such as the US presidential elections, among others.

Organisations with interest in this region should be assessing how geopolitical risk will impact the enterprise for 2024.


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