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Korea to receive new shells in return for 'old shells' loaned to US

Korea to receive new shells in return for 'old shells' loaned to US

Posted April. 21, 2023 07:51,   

Updated April. 21, 2023 07:51


It has been confirmed that the contract for the U.S. Army to lease about 500,000 rounds of 155mm shells from the South Korean army was signed under the terms that the U.S. government pay off its "shell debt" by sending the South Korean military new shells it would purchase from a South Korean shell manufacturer.

According to a government source on Thursday, the South Korean government recently signed a contract with the US government to lend around 500,000 rounds of shells owned by the South Korean military, including 155mm shells, and specified the repayment method. Accordingly, upon production of shells by a Korean company, the U.S. government will purchase them and give them to the South Korean military, replenishing the shell stockpiles of the Korean military. “It is the ideal contract in terms of economic benefits because we are sending old shells to the U.S. military, and we will get back new shells produced by a domestic shell manufacturer,” the source said. “Because we will receive new ones in return for leasing old ones, the returning volume will not be the same.”

Observations are made that the U.S. may use Korean shells indirectly to support Ukraine since it is not repaid by returning shells borrowed from South Korea as they are.

Meanwhile, Russia raised its threat level after President Yoon Suk Yeol hinted at the possible "conditional" military aid on the premise of Russia's genocide of Ukrainian civilians. According to Russia's Sputnik news agency on Thursday (local time), the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a bluff, saying, “Any arms provision to Ukraine will be regarded as an act of anti-Russian hostilities.” On the other hand, the US Department of Defense said, “We welcome South Korea’s contributions to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG).”

A senior official in the presidential office responded to Russia's backlash, by saying, "It's like commenting on something that hasn't happened yet. What we do depends on what Russia will do in the future.” “There is no legal provision in our constitution that prohibits arms support for foreign countries involved in arms conflict,” the official added. This remark hinted at the possibility of military aid in the event of a mass civilian casualty that would infuriate the international community.

Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com · Kyu-Jin Shin newjin@donga.com