In­ter-Korean com­mit­tee could boost peace

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Jung Da-min [email protected]­re­

A year has passed since the two Koreas signed the Sept. 19 Com­pre­hen­sive Mil­i­tary Agree­ment (CMA) as part of the Py­ongyang Joint Dec­la­ra­tion last year, a re­sult of the third sum­mit be­tween Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.

The mil­i­tary pact has wit­nessed some no­table achieve­ments such as the dis­ar­ma­ment of the Joint Se­cu­rity Area (JSA) and the de­mo­li­tion of guard posts (GPs) in the de­mil­i­ta­rized zone (DMZ) last year. Other prom­ises made through the pact, how­ever, have seen lit­tle progress as an im­passe in de­nu­cle­ariza­tion talks with North Korea has con­tin­ued af­ter the break­down of Kim’s sum­mit with U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in Hanoi.

The most ur­gent task for the govern­ment to re­vive the CMA is to cre­ate a sys­tem in which the Koreas could con­tinue to dis­cuss the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pact to­gether, mil­i­tary of­fi­cials and ex­perts said. More specif­i­cally, es­tab­lish­ing an in­ter-Korean joint mil­i­tary com­mit­tee as agreed at the CMA should soon be im­ple­mented.

“The CMA has left much to be de­sired es­pe­cially in that the in­ter-Korean joint mil­i­tary com­mit­tee has yet to be formed to of­fer the two Koreas a space to con­tinue to im­ple­ment (other prom­ises) from pre­vent­ing mil­i­tary clashes to grad­ual dis­ar­ma­ment,” said Hong Min, di­rec­tor of the North Korean Re­search Di­vi­sion at the Korea In­sti­tute for Na­tional Uni­fi­ca­tion (KINU). Hong said the fail­ure in Hanoi has trig­gered North Korea’s mis­treat­ment of in­ter-Korean re­la­tions, as the North wanted to cre­ate some level of ten­sion on the Korean Penin­sula to gain lever­age in the up­com­ing de­nu­cle­ariza­tion ne­go­ti­a­tions with the U.S.

“Py­ongyang needs to ap­peal to Wash­ing­ton that the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion on the penin­sula is a mil­i­tary threat to the U.S. To do so, Py­ongyang has to take is­sue with all of the mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties in South Korea from the pres­ence of U.S. Forces Korea to the South Korea-U.S. joint mil­i­tary drills, Seoul’s in­tro­duc­tion of weapons, the de­fense min­istry’s mid-term pol­icy plans and oth­ers,” Hong said.

Start­ing May, North Korea has con­ducted 10 mis­sile and rocket launches. Al­though the CMA did not say such mis­sile tests should be banned, Seoul’s de­fense min­istry said they go against the spirit of the pact and the peace ef­forts.

To bridge such gaps, the two Koreas need to set up a ver­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tem in which they can mon­i­tor each other and cre­ate some puni­tive mea­sures to counter vi­o­la­tions through reg­u­lar dis­cus­sions, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts. “A spe­cific sys­tem where the two Koreas can mon­i­tor, in­spect and pun­ish each other for vi­o­la­tions of the CMA should be cre­ated,” said Choi Yoon-cheol, pro­fes­sor at Sangmyung Univer­sity’s De­part­ment of Na­tional De­fense. “With­out such a sys­tem, the cur­rent CMA would re­main mean­ing­less.”

Choi said im­ple­ment­ing the CMA would also be im­por­tant for the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of North Korea, as the CMA was made to im­ple­ment the April 27 Pan­munjeom Dec­la­ra­tion made last year which fo­cused on de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.

The pos­si­bil­ity of re­sum­ing in­ter-Korean mil­i­tary talks re­mains de­pend­ing on the re­sults of the up­com­ing de­nu­cle­ariza­tion di­a­logue be­tween the U.S. and North Korea. They said Seoul should main­tain readi­ness for in­ter-Korean projects such as the joint war re­mains ex­ca­va­tion project in the DMZ for when the North replies.

“We hope the mil­i­tary au­thor­i­ties of the two Koreas will soon es­tab­lish the in­ter-Korean joint mil­i­tary com­mit­tee to build mil­i­tary trust and ease ten­sions be­tween the two Koreas,” an of­fi­cial at the Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense’s North Korea Pol­icy Bureau told re­porters Wed­nes­day, a day be­fore the one-year an­niver­sary of the CMA.

South Korea’s then-De­fense Min­is­ter Song Young-moo, left and North Korean Min­is­ter of the Peo­ple’s Armed Forces No Kwang-chol show re­porters the Com­pre­hen­sive Mil­i­tary Agree­ment signed by the two with pres­ence of Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un in this Sept. 19, 2018, file photo. Joint Press Corps

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