Seoul, Nov 27

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orth Korea has begun rebuilding guard posts and bringing heavy firearms along the border with South Korea after effectively scrapping a 2018 inter-Korean military tension reduction deal, the Defence Ministry said on Monday.

Ministry officials disclosed photos showing North Korean troops installing temporary guard posts, carrying what appeared to be recoilless guns and standing guard at night inside the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas.

These moves came after North Korea said last week that it would restore all military measures halted under the 2018 tension reduction deal. That decision came after South Korea suspended part of the agreement in protest of North Korea's successful launch of a military spy satellite, Yonhap news agency reported.

"Before destroying the GPs, there were observation posts and they are presumed to be rebuilding them. It was made of white wood and painted with a camouflage pattern," a senior military official told reporters, referring to a guard post seen in a photo released by the Defence Ministry on Monday.

"There are only a few guard posts currently undergoing restoration work, but North Korea is expected to restore all of them as they are essential facilities for surveillance," the official added.

Restoration work began on Friday, a day after North Korea said it was scrapping the deal, officials said.

The Comprehensive Military Agreement was signed on September 19, 2018, at the height of a reconciliatory mood when then South Korean President Moon Jae-in travelled to Pyongyang for summit talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The deal called for demolishing border guard posts within 1 km of the border, banning military drills and maneuvers near the land and sea borders, and establishing no-fly zones along the border, among a series of measures designed to reduce military tensions.

At the time, both sides demolished 10 guard posts each and withdrew troops and weapons from them.

In response to North Korea's latest move, the Defence Ministry vowed to keep close tabs on the North Korea's activities to detect signs of provocations along the border.

"Our military will closely monitor North Korea's provocative acts, while maintaining the full readiness to be able to retaliate to North Korea's provocations immediately, strongly and till the end, based on the strengthened combined posture with the US," the Ministry said.

North Korea's restoration of guard posts has raised speculation that the South Korean military could take further actions in addition to resuming surveillance activities near the border following the partial suspension of the accord.

General Kim Myung-soo, the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who took office on Saturday, said the South Korean military will take "corresponding measures" in response to North Korea's latest move, without elaborating on details.

"It depends on the enemy's behaviour. It is North Korea that has taken actions and broken trust ... We will take corresponding measures. Not taking an action would be more foolish," Kim said during his first meeting with reporters on Monday.

Later on Monday, Defence Minister Shin Won-shik visited the South Korea-US Combined Forces Command (CFC) in Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, 60 km south of Seoul, to discuss the security situation on the peninsula with General Paul LaCamera, the commander of the CFC, US Forces Korea and the United Nations Command.

During the visit, Shin condemned North Korea's launch of a spy military satellite and taking steps to restore military measures halted under the 2018 pact near the border, calling for the allies' strong combined defence posture against North Korea's provocations, according to the Ministry.

N.Korea restoring guard posts, bringing heavy firearms along inter-Korean border

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