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Ministry reaffirms push for early OPCON transfer

All News 11:46 July 03, 2017

SEOUL, July 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense ministry said Monday it is committed to an early takeover of wartime operational control (OPCON) of the country's troops by beefing up its own defense capabilities.

"Basically, our position is to push for the OPCON transition (from the U.S.) at an early date," the ministry's spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said at a press briefing. "(We) will try to strengthen the core capabilities of our military."

He was responding to a summit deal between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his American counterpart Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. last week.

The two leaders "decided to continue the Alliance's work to expeditiously enable the conditions-based transfer of wartime operational control of ROK (South Korea) forces," read a joint statement.

South Korea will continue to acquire the critical military capabilities necessary to lead the combined defense, it added.

The agreement reflects the liberal South Korean president's campaign pledge.

South Korea was supposed to regain its wartime OPCON at the end of 2015. But the transfer has been postponed indefinitely as the allies agreed to seek the "conditions-based" OPCON transfer, instead of setting a specific deadline, amid growing North Korean military threats.

The ministry official said the two sides evaluate the conditions, apparently meaning the North's firepower and the South's defense capabilities, every year.

And the outcome is reported to the annual Security Consultative Meeting between the defense chiefs of the two sides.

South Korea handed over its OPCON to the U.S.-led U.N. forces shortly after the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War.


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