‘Seoul needs to pay de­ploy­ment of US strate­gic as­sets’

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Jung Da-min [email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

South Korea and the United States are cur­rently hold­ing dis­cus­sions for the 11th Spe­cial Mea­sures Agree­ment (SMA) to de­cide how much Seoul will pay for next year’s de­fense cost-shar­ing for the sta­tion­ing of the United States Forces Korea (USFK) here. The one-year long 10th SMA for 2019 is set to end Dec. 31.

James DeHart, se­nior ad­vi­sor for se­cu­rity ne­go­ti­a­tions and agree­ments at the U.S. Depart­ment of States’ Bureau of Po­lit­i­cal-Mil­i­tary Af­fairs, vis­ited Seoul from Tues­day to to­day to meet of­fi­cials here, ahead of the of­fi­cial third round of ne­go­ti­a­tions. DeHart is the top U.S. ne­go­tia­tor for the 11th SMA. The first and sec­ond round of talks were held in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber.

In the those rounds, Dehart asked South Korea to pay for U.S. mil­i­tary as­sets mo­bi­lized to de­fend South Korea in emer­gen­cies as well as the stand­ing costs for the up­keep of the 28,500 USFK troops, diplo­matic sources said Thurs­day. Wash­ing­ton al­legedly asked Seoul to pay five- to six-times more than this year’s 1.04 tril­lion won ($895 mil­lion).

Ex­perts be­lieve the U.S. re­quest was aimed at ask­ing South Korea to pay for the “up­keep and op­er­a­tion” of the U.S. strate­gic as­sets as well as the costs for fly­ing them to and near the Korean Penin­sula.

“When we talked about the cost of de­ploy­ing U.S. strate­gic as­sets to South Korea, we used to count only those re­lated to fly­ing U.S. air­craft such as B-52 bombers or their F-15 es­corts, but such costs were not too high,” said Shin Beom-chul, a se­nior fel­low at the

Asan In­sti­tute for Pol­icy Stud­ies. “To un­der­stand the new U.S. cal­cu­la­tion, we have to say the U.S. wants South Korea to pay the costs of the up­keep of such as­sets in prepa­ra­tion for an emer­gency.”

Un­der the Indo-Pa­cific ini­tia­tive, Wash­ing­ton is ask­ing its Asian al­lies to play a more “ac­tive” role in main­tain­ing re­gional se­cu­rity.

“When the U.S. talks of the cost of de­ploy­ing strate­gic as­sets in prepa­ra­tion for an emer­gency on the penin­sula, it also in­cludes those oc­cur­ring dur­ing train­ing,” Park Won-gon, an in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions pro­fes­sor at Han­dong Global Uni­ver­sity, said, adding Seoul and Wash­ing­ton may re­vise a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing on cri­sis man­age­ment on the penin­sula through the clear def­i­ni­tion of what con­sti­tutes a “time of emer­gency.”

“We need to nar­row down the def­i­ni­tion of ‘time of emer­gency,’ and whether it also in­cludes a pos­si­ble sit­u­a­tion where U.S. ter­ri­tory is at­tacked,” Park said. “What also needs to be ad­dressed is whether it also in­cludes pos­si­ble wars in re­gions (out­side the Korean Penin­sula), such as a pos­si­ble war be­tween the U.S. and Iraq for ex­am­ple.”

Ear­lier this week at the Na­tional Assem­bly Na­tional De­fense Com­mit­tee, De­fense Min­is­ter Jeong Kyeong-doo told law­mak­ers that the U.S. and South Korea are dis­cussing the SMA based on the 1953 Mu­tual De­fense Treaty be­tween the Repub­lic of Korea and the United States of Amer­ica.

To widen the role of the South Korean mil­i­tary in its con­tri­bu­tion to re­gional se­cu­rity, the SOFA or sta­tus of forces agree­ment be­tween the U.S. and South Korea needs to be re­vised ac­cord­ingly.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Korea, Republic

© PressReader. All rights reserved.