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Conflicts Arise over Amendment of NLL Regulations

Posted September. 02, 2004 21:50,   


On September 2, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) changed regulations to restrain naval vessels from firing warning shots on North Korean ships that cross the Northern Limit Line (NLL).

A military official said, “As the contract to prevent military clashes in the Yellow Sea was signed at the general-level talks in June, the regulations were changed to disallow warning shots until it is determined that North Korean ships crossing NLL are not just crossing to regulate Chinese fishing ships, to rescue drifting ships, or to avoid inclement weather.”

However, conflicts are arising since it’s only been two years since the last time the regulations were amended and because North Korean ships often do not reply to messages that South Korea sends, which makes it difficult to identify the intent of the invading ships.

In reality, according to the amendment of regulations, North Korean vessels are allowed to make limited incursions into South Korea’s seas.

A military official said, “However, when it is clear that vessels have invaded to attack, North Korean vessels in violation of the NLL will be destroyed with direct and indirect fire.”

According to the amended regulations, when a North Korean vessel crosses the NLL, the South Korean navy should “confront the vessels beneath the tactics line, send warning messages to the vessels, allow temporary activities if the vessels’ intentions are to regulate Chinese fishing ships or to rescue North Korean ships, respond with prudence and time if the vessels do not intend to attack, shoot warning shots, and finally, direct fire.”

Prior to this, the military had showed their intention to block NLL incursions by simplifying the five-stage regulatory procedure to a three-stage procedure of “maneuver, warning shots, direct shots,” right after the Yellow Sea battle in June 2002.

Jei-Gyoon Park phark@donga.com