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Inter-Korean military agreement should be abolished: defense chief nominee

Sept. 25, 2023 - 17:47 By Ji Da-gyum
New Defense Minister nominee Shin Won-sik arrives for work at his temporary office in Seoul on Sept. 15 to prepare for his parliamentary confirmation hearing. (Yonhap)

South Korea's defense minister nominee has said the inter-Korean military agreement should be abolished in light of its adverse security implications for South Korea in a written statement submitted to the National Assembly.

The nominee, Rep. Shin Won-sik of the ruling People Power Party, who previously served as a three-star general, repeatedly reiterated his critical stance on the inter-Korean comprehensive military agreement that was signed on Sept. 19 during the inter-Korean summit in 2018.

The written statement was handed over to the National Assembly's defense committee in the run-up to his confirmation hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

"I firmly believe that due to the significant military vulnerabilities resulting from the September 19 Military Agreement, such as the weakening of our military combat capabilities and operational performance, the agreement must be unequivocally terminated," Shin said in the extensive written statement seen by The Korea Herald.

Shin labeled the September 19 military agreement as an "ill-advised accord that has exacerbated military vulnerabilities, including the erosion of our military's intelligence and monitoring capabilities, reductions in training and exercises, and a diminishment of our overall military activities."

"It is desirable to strengthen our military preparedness against North Korean threats through the termination of the agreement."

However, Shin clarified that he will conduct a comprehensive review of the suspension in consultation with relevant government departments, emphasizing that it's not a decision that can be made unilaterally by the Defense Ministry.

Shin also outlined his intention to assess the military vulnerabilities stemming from the military agreement. He pledged to "expeditiously devise complementary measures" to address these vulnerabilities when he assumes the role of defense chief.

"In view of North Korea's persistent breaches of the September 19 Military Agreement and its ongoing enhancement of nuclear, missile and conventional capabilities, the agreement is rendered largely ineffective," Shin elucidated in his written statement. "In such circumstances, it's not desirable for us to unilaterally adhere to the agreement."