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Ex-Defense Chief Blasts Command Shift

Posted September. 05, 2006 06:53,   


Former Defense Minister Cho Yung-kil’s article on the issue of transferring wartime operational control published in this newspaper has created a stir in the political arena. He wrote that it is in favor of the North that the Combined Forces Command, not Korea alone, has operational control.

The ruling Uri Party was embarrassed by his remarks because Cho, the first defense minister in the Roh administration, openly opposed Korean forces having independent wartime command. Meanwhile, the Grand National Party supported his view, saying that he was right.

Minister Cho wrote, “Korea was able to disrupt the unilateral act of the U.S. to attack North Korea in 1994 when North Korea’s nuclear crisis began. When South Korea regains its control and the Combined Forces Command is dismantled, what can South Korea, a third party, do if the U.S., a sovereign country, attacks North Korea, another sovereign country under international law?”

Former Defense Minister during the Kim administration and current Uri Party member Cho Seong-tae said, “Given that Former Minister Cho Yung-kil was involved in the chain of command at a time when North Korea’s nuclear crisis began in 1994, his remarks seem reliable. Hasty recovery of control is not appropriate.”

He added, “When the transfer is done is not important, but rather how it is done.” He also said, “Regardless of ‘when’, three prerequisites for the transfer must be met. They are the peaceful resolution of North Korea’s nuclear issue, establishment of a peaceful regime on the Korean peninsula, and building military trust between the two Koreas.”

A member of the National Assembly’s Defense Committee and ruling Uri Party member said, “It is embarrassing. Cho’s remarks make sense as far as defense is concerned. But the issue of the transfer of the wartime operational control is more than just a defense issue. It involves the issue of reunification of the two Koreas.”

Chairman of the Grand National Party’s International Relations Committee and member of the National Assembly’s Defense Committee Hwang Jin-ha said, “I read his article, and I thought he got the point. With the control in our hand, when the North is engaged in nuclear experiments, disagreements over the appropriate response to the North can lead to friction between the South and the U.S.”

A member of the Grand National Party said, “According to Cho, the North may have difficulties in case the South regains control. Nevertheless, pro-North and leftist activists agree with President Roh’s opinion that we should regain wartime operational control.”

Spokesperson of the Grand National Party Yoo Ki-june said, “It must have been hard for him to say his opinion in public because he served as defense minister during the early Roh administration.”