The South Korean military has withdrawn plans to establish a new strategic command to counter nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, the country’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) confirmed on Tuesday.
Speaking in a regular news briefing, MND spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo said the move was linked to broader efforts to streamline the military’s decision-making processes.
“The establishment of the strategic command had been devised from the perspective of finding effective measures to counter nuclear and WMD (weapon of mass destruction) threats,” Choi explained, responding to a question about whether the decision was linked to warming inter-Korean ties.
The move is the “outcome of continuous discussions and multiple pieces of research and analyses,” she continued, and has been made to ensure the “effectiveness and efficiency as well as consistency of policy… against nuclear and WMD threats.”
“We’ve reached the conclusion that the more effective way… to command operations with our assets and capabilities in a comprehensive manner would be to reinforce the current organization of the JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff).”
The South Korean military had previously planned to expand the current ROK JCS’s nuclear and WMD response center, in plans launched in January 2017.
The Moon Jae-in administration in July that year said it would “actively review the establishment of the strategic command” by the end of the President’s term.
Seoul’s stated goal at the time was to “build an organization equipped with independent capabilities to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.”
This is not the first time that Seoul’s defense policy has shifted gears as Seoul and Pyongyang have improved relations.
January saw the ROK MND change the name of a planned three-axis defense system to what can roughly be translated as a “system to respond to nuclear and WMDs.”
The three new capabilities stem from now-defunct three-axis defense system, which consisted of the so-called “Kill Chain” pre-emptive strike program, Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD), and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) systems.
The Moon administration had previously said it would seek to expeditiously complete the three-axis platform by 2022, as part of efforts to counter the nuclear and missile threat from Pyongyang.
In spite of the changes, the South Korean military in January unveiled its plan to allocate a total of KRW 270.7 trillion (USD$242 billion) to defense in the “medium-term plan” for 2019 to 2023 issued.
Meanwhile, the ROK MND on Tuesday also confirmed that the consultations with North Korean authorities over guaranteeing of freedom of movement for visitors and tourists within the Joint Security Area (JSA) in Panmunjom are ongoing.
November last year saw the two Koreas and the United Nations Command (UNC) agree to establish fresh guard duty rules for the newly-demilitarized JSA, in accordance with an inter-Korean military agreement signed in September.
Progress has been slow since then, however.
“We will make a statement when we (the three parties) come to an agreement and make a decision,” MND spokesperson Choi told press on Tuesday.
Speaking at the news briefing, Choi also said Seoul and Pyongyang have not yet “fleshed out” plans for a pilot joint remains recovery project within the demilitarized zone (DMZ), while adding that both sides continue to discuss the issue.
September’s military agreement saw the two Koreas agree to complete the composition of the Joint Remains Recovery Team — set to include 80 to 100 personnel — and notify each other by the end of February.
The project is set to be implemented from April 1 to October 31 this year.
Despite the ongoing efforts to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula, DPRK state-run media has in recent weeks ratcheted up its rhetoric against the South Korean military on a near-daily basis.
The DPRK outlets last month denounced Seoul for various pending issues, including the implementation of a series of low-key regional military drills, plans to increase defense spending, and the expected deployment of two F-35A stealth fighters.
سایت تابناک از انتشار نظرات حاوی توهین و افترا و نوشته شده با حروف لاتین (فینگیلیش) معذور است.