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Conservatives in S. Korea voice worries over inter-Korean military agreement

Defense 11:27 November 21, 2018

SEOUL, Nov. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korean conservatives, including former generals, reiterated concerns Wednesday over an inter-Korean military accord on arms control and trust-building measures, saying it would imperil their country's security.

They have argued that concrete steps toward denuclearization by Pyongyang must precede such measures, and raised the possibility that North Korea could exploit the good-faith accord to its own advantage.

They are set to gather at an afternoon forum on the September accord aimed at easing tensions and preventing accidental clashes. The accord includes disarming the Joint Security Area in the Demilitarized Zone, conducting a joint project to excavate Korean War remains in the border area and setting up land, maritime and ground buffer zones.

"The accord can seriously damage our security posture when there has been no progress in North Korea's actual denuclearization," Shin won-sik, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in a prereleased speech for the forum.

"There needs to be such things as improving the military accord and preventing any weakening of the South Korea-U.S. alliance so as to secure our country's national survival and protect the lives of citizens," he added.

Kim Tae-woo, former head of the Korea Institute for National Unification, said that the "biggest problem" of the military accord is the restriction on the South Korean military's operation of surveillance and monitoring equipment.

The accord restricts military activities close to the tense inter-Korean border through such measures as setting up buffer zones and banning live-fire training and other maneuvers there.

Park Hwi-rak, a professor at the Graduate School of Political Science at Kookmin University, voiced worries about what he calls a perfect storm that can be created by still potent military threats from the North.

The threats include Pyongyang's surprise conventional strike capabilities, its existing nuclear program and a possible weakening of South Korean citizens' security awareness amid peace efforts, Park noted.

The Seoul government has argued that despite such concerns, the military accord will help enhance inter-Korean relations in a way that adds momentum for ongoing denuclearization efforts.

Conservatives in S. Korea voice worries over inter-Korean military agreement - 1


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