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Defense White Paper Not to Call N. Korea ‘Main Enemy’

Posted July. 28, 2008 03:31,   


South Korea will not refer to North Korea as its “main enemy” in a defense white paper to be published in December, a Defense Ministry source in Seoul said yesterday.

Reference to the North will be the same as in the 2006 version, the source said. The white paper is a biennial government document that was first published in 2000.

The ministry dropped the label “main enemy” in the 2004 white paper, and instead described North Korea’s “conventional weapons, nuclear testing, weapons of mass destruction, and forward deployment of its military power” as “serious threats to national security.”

A ministry official said, “Since the inauguration of the new administration, talks have discussed reviving the label of ‘main enemy’ in the defense white paper, as [the new administration] has emphasized troop education. However, it is not appropriate to use the expression again at this moment.”

Early last week, Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee told ruling party lawmaker Yun Sang-hyun, “The biggest threat is North Korea, and I will refer to it a way that is not controversial but acceptable to everyone.”

Yun had asked if North Korea was South Korea’s main enemy in an emergency question and answer session at the National Assembly.

Upon hearing the comments, North Korea immediately protested. “Minister Lee made viciously reckless comments on [North Korea] being the biggest enemy in a general National Assembly session. Defining us as the main enemy is an unforgivable provocation against [North Korea],” a report by the North’s Committee for Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said.

A military source in Seoul, however, said, “Minister Lee never described North Korea as the main enemy. North Korea is making a false claim.”