SEOUL, May 17 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government seeks to build a new building for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in a new location by 2026, the defense ministry confirmed Tuesday.
In a parliamentary policy briefing, the ministry made public the relocation plan, as the ministry's key offices have occupied parts of the current JCS building since the presidential office's relocation to what used to be the ministry's headquarters in Seoul's central district of Yongsan.
During his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said that the Yoon Suk-yeol administration would consider the relocation of the JCS headquarters. But it is the first time that the new government made the relocation plan official.
Speculation has continued that if the relocation takes place, the JCS headquarters is likely to be set up in Namtaeryeong in southern Seoul where the country's key wartime command bunker is located.
"We will push for the construction of the new JCS building and its relocation for the sake of unifying peacetime and wartime (command centers)," the ministry said in the report.
The ministry plans to start related consultations, including those about a feasibility test, this year under the scheme to complete the new building's construction in 2026.
Should the JCS relocate to a new place, defense ministry offices that have relocated to multiple separate locations due to the relocation of the presidential office are expected to move to the current JCS building, observers said.
Commenting on the question about whether to reposition Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interception units for the defense of the new presidential office, the ministry said there is no plan for their relocation or installation of additional units as the current units cover the entire Seoul metropolitan area.
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