S Korea rejects speculation on delaying transfer of wartime operational control

13:57, March 09, 2010      

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South Korea's Defense Ministry rejected Tuesday growing speculation at home that Seoul and Washington are moving to delay the planned transfer of wartime operational control from the United Sates back to South Korea.

"We never asked the U.S. about putting off the plan," Defense Ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae told reporters in a briefing.

"The transfer plan is a pledge between the two countries," he said, adding the transfer process is ongoing.

The transfer is scheduled to take place in April 2012, which South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young earlier said would be the worst-case scenario for the country's army, hinting at uneasiness about the eventual removal of the U.S. security umbrella while perceived threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) remain.

Seoul's wartime operational control was handed over to the U.S. -led United Nations Command at the outbreak of the Korean War, which was later transferred to the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC), while about 28,500 U.S. troops have been stationed in the country since the war.

Conservatives here have voiced concern that the scheduled transfer would significantly weaken deterrence against potential threats from the DPRK, as the two Koreas remain technically at war following a truce, not a peace treaty, which ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

Seoul and Washington have sought to replace the U.S.-led combined forces commend with a Seoul-led joint command system, which the former liberal-leaning president Roh Moo-hyun welcomed but critics in Seoul rejected for fear of less security commitment by Washington.

Source: Xinhua
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