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(2nd LD) S. Korea confirms disablement of N.K. DMZ guard posts

Defense 15:29 December 17, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS more info in para 6)

SEOUL, Dec. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's military on Monday confirmed the demolition and disablement of some North Korean border guard posts (GPs) through its onsite verification last week and days of subsequent analysis.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) announced the results of its Dec. 12 work to verify the demolition of 10 North Korean GPs in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the disarmament of another. The North's military also carried out the verification work on the same day.

As part of a boarder accord to reduce military tensions and build trust, Seoul and Pyongyang initially agreed to demolish 11 GPs each. But they decided later to keep one of them apiece, albeit unarmed, in light of their historical value.

"The (South Korean) Ministry of National Defense and the JCS judged that the North's GPs, subject to the withdrawal agreement, cannot carry out any missions as military posts now, and that (we) have thus achieved the goal of disabling them," Suh Wook, chief director of operations at the JCS, told reporters.

Suh Wook, the chief director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during a press conference at the defense ministry in Seoul on Dec. 17, 2018. (Yonhap)

The North is confirmed to have pulled out all troops and military equipment from the 11 GPs. One or two crenels each near five of the 11 GPs were seen left partially destroyed but are thought to be inoperable, the JCS said.

The North's GPs in mountainous areas have several crenels each linked to them via underground passages. Aside from the demolished ones, the North and South are known to have 150 and 50 GPs in the DMZ, respectively.

"We have found some crenels in potential minefields where access is limited, but all passages connecting them to the GPs were caved in, meaning they cannot function," a military official said on condition of anonymity.

During its verification work south of the border, the North gave "positive" onsite assessments, but demanded that the South promptly remove the wreckage left from the South's work to tear down barbed-wire fences that used to encircle its GPs.

"In conclusion, the two sides have confirmed through the onsite verification that they had faithfully implemented the agreement to pull out GPs on a trial basis, which was stipulated in the Sept. 19 military accord," Suh said.

"While maintaining a solid security posture, our military will buttress the peace process on the Korean Peninsula," he added.

The two Koreas' defense chiefs signed the military accord after the third summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang. It includes a series of confidence-building and conventional arms control measures.

During the verification work, the South sent 11 seven-member teams across the Military Demarcation Line to check the disablement of 11 North Korean GPs and their underground facilities in the morning. The North also sent its teams to carry out the verification in the afternoon.

This image, provided by Yonhap News TV, shows the national flas of the two Koreas. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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