S. Korea, U.S. reconsider wartime command transfer

17:07, June 24, 2010      

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South Korea and the United States are having second thoughts about their plan to transfer Seoul's wartime operational control from the United States back to South Korea in 2012 after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ( DPRK) conducted its nuclear test last year, Seoul's top diplomat said Thursday.

The two allies have been rethinking the scheduled transfer since U.S. President Barak Obama took office and Pyongyang conducted its second nuclear test, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said during a press briefing.

His remark comes when security concerns are rising on the Korean peninsula after the DPRK's alleged torpedo attack on a South Korean warship that resulted in the loss of 46 lives, with some calling for Washington to delay the handover with hopes to stay longer under its security umbrella.

Seoul's wartime operational control was handed over to the U.S.- led United Nations Command at the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War, which was later transferred to the Republic of Korea (South Korea)-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC), while about 28,500 U.S. troops have been stationed here following the 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.

Conservatives here have voiced concern that the transfer would significantly weaken deterrence against potential threats from Pyongyang, as the two Koreas remain technically at war after the civil war ended with a truce instead of a formal peace treaty.

Source: Xinhua


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