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N.K. threatens to cut off contacts if Ulchi exercise held

N.K. threatens to cut off contacts if Ulchi exercise held

Posted August. 21, 2000 15:27,   


North Korea has warned that it might cut off all contacts, negotiations, exchanges and collaborations, reverting the inter-Korean relationship back to its state prior to the June 15 Joint Declaration, if the South follows through with the Ulchi Focus Lens joint military exercise August 21 to September 1.

The North`s threat concerning the Ulchi Focus Lens exercise, which the Korea-U.S. Combined Force Command (CFC) carries out on an annual basis, is a rather strong example of arm twisting in the light of the current atmosphere of reconciliation between the two Koreas.

The warning was revealed publicly by a spokesman for the North`s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.

"There can`t be an atmosphere of reconciliation and cooperation when the South continues joint offensive military exercises, which threaten the dialogue partner," the spokesperson said. "It is unthinkable to have the partnership continue with joint military drills with a third party, which threatens our communist state at this juncture of having agreed to add our strengths together ourselves to solve the unification problem. This is an injustice to the dialogue and a gross infringement of the June 15 Declaration made to the world."

However, South Korean government sources responded that the North`s warning doesn`t seem to carry much weight. They pointed out that there never has been a military drill that North has not opposed. In addition, the current warning was not issued by the North`s government, the warning uses comparative less threatening terminology, and the warning came about rather hurriedly only two days prior to the joint drill.

"A nation with an armed force must have drills," the source said. "It goes the same for the North. In order to prevent such misunderstanding and conflict due to such national security issues, it is imperative that the two Korea establish an air of trust politically and militarily."

Boo Hyung-Kwon bookum90@donga.com