Koreas halt all ‘hostile acts’ as part of declaration
North Korea and South Korea halted all “hostile acts” on land, sea, and air beginning Thursday in accordance with the Pyongyang joint declaration signed between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in September.
Kim and Moon made the pledge on ending military tension and denuclearizing the peninsula at a joint press conference on September 19, following a second round of talks during Moon’s three-day visit to Pyongyang.
The two sides are prohibited from conducting live-fire artillery drills and regiment-level field maneuvering exercises or those by bigger units within five kilometers of the Military Demarcation Line (MDL).
North Korea closed its coastal artillery to alleviate military tensions, while the South sealed its ship-borne artillery and coastal artillery close to the border areas, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
In line with the joint declaration, the two Koreas will create a 20 kilometer-wide no-fly zone along the western part of the MDL and a 40 kilometer-wide no-fly zone along the eastern side, South Korean TV station KBS reported.
The South has adopted different restrictions on helicopters, drones and balloons, and exceptions will be made in the event of an emergency such as forest fires and rescue operations, KBS reported.
South Korea also strengthened regulations and education of border guards to avoid occasional military conflicts, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said, Xinhua reported.
“We will thoroughly verify the North side’s implementation of the agreement, including its movement on military exercises around the MDL and whether it complies with the no-fly zone,” the South’s defense ministry said in a statement.
“The South and the North completely removed dangers of military clashes through the military agreement,” Moon told parliament on Thursday, according to the Reuters.
South Korea noted the alleviation of military tensions help build mutual trust, which will promote the denuclearization of the peninsula and the establishment of a peace mechanism.
Denuclearization, however, will be a long-term process that goes along with increasing exchanges in a wide range of fields and the building-up of mutual trust, Cui Zhiying, director of Tongji University’s Korean Peninsula Research Center in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Reuters on Wednesday reported that North Korea is preparing its Punggye-ri nuclear test site for international inspectors, the first time foreign experts would be allowed to examine the facilities.
When the site was officially closed in May, a handful of journalists were invited to observe the sealed tunnels where nuclear tests were conducted. But observers were not allowed to use radiation monitoring equipment, the Reuters reported.
North Korea agreed to permanently destroy the Tongchang-ri engine test site and missile launch pads in the presence of experts from the countries concerned. It also ex- pressed willingness to take further steps, such as closing its main Yongbyon nuclear complex, in return for reciprocal measures by the US, according to the joint declaration.
The cessation of military hostility is an obvious sign that the peninsula is shifting to a more peaceful and stable situation that benefits the two Koreas, Cui said, noting that the US has been using economic sanctions on North Korea as a tool to interfere in regional affairs and urge the North to denuclearize.
South Korean marines take part in a regular drill on Yeonpyeong Island on Thursday, the same day North Korea and South Korea agreed to halt all “hostile acts” on land, sea, and air.