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No Turning Back on Command Transfer

Posted September. 23, 2006 03:55,   


Six lawmakers from the Grand National Party who visited Washington on September 20-21 (local time) to deliver the problems of the wartime operational control got the response that, “It’s too late to turn back the agreement.” Some U.S. figures even used the expression, “The train has already left.”

According to the visiting group which consisted of National Assembly vice speaker Lee Sang-deuk, Jeong Hyeong-geun, Jeon Yeo-ok, Park Jin, Hwang Jin-ha and Jeong Mun-heon, the former commander of U.S. forces in Korea, John Tilelli, described the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command as water that is made up of oxygen and hydrogen. He said, “When oxygen and hydrogen are in a divided state, it takes a lot of time to join them together to make water.” This means that if Korean and U.S. forces are divided, it will be difficult to accomplish a successful operation.

The visiting group said that Tilelli remarked, “It seems that the Korean government is happy about the U.S. leaving (the Korean peninsula). It feels like we are guests.” He went on to say, “After the operational control is transferred, the U.S. forces in Korea will not be entitled to just Korea and will be able to move freely,” predicting that it will be natural to reduce the forces on land.

Former commanders of U.S. forces in Korea, Tilelli and Robert RisCassi, said, “The transfer of operational control has already been decided by the heads of both nations so it will be hard to turn back.” But, Tilelli said, “Depending on the Korean government’s will, negotiation is not completely impossible.

Catherine Stevens, U.S. senior Assistant Undersecretary of State, explained the remark, “The issue of operational control should not be made a political issue,” that President George W. Bush made at the Korea-U.S. summit on September 14. Stevens said, “This (was not aimed at Korea but) simply meant that it is not a issue to be dealt with by the two heads, but that it is best to leave it to military specialists.” Jim Leach, chairman of the House International Relations subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, also said, “The operational control issue should strictly be discussed at military levels.”

“Is the Roh government an intermediary between North Korea and the U.S.?”-

Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph, who leads the hard-line policy towards North Korea in the Department of State, said, “Regardless of whether North Korea returns to the six-party talks, economic sanctions against North Korea’s illegal actions will continue.” He confirmed the Bush administration’s firm policy.

He said, “The U.S. thought of Korea as an ally, but the Korean government seems to be playing as an intermediary between the U.S. and North Korea.”

South Korean-born Balbina Hwang, an analyst at Heritage Foundation and the senior special assistant for Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs, Christopher Hill, who is the representative at six-party talks, criticized the Roh government in a roundabout way by saying, “I don’t think that the current government did not mean to deteriorate Korea-U.S. relations.”