Monday, 10 December, 2018

N. Korea says peace treaty no bargaining chip for denuclearisation

More than 1 million landmines were laid in border areas including the DMZ and the Civilian Control Zone in the South Rex_Wholster via Getty Images More than 1 million landmines were laid in border areas including the DMZ and the Civilian Control Zone in the South
Gerardo Duncan | 02 October, 2018, 16:42

South Korea earlier Monday sent troops to remove its mines from the sites at the Demilitarized Zone under recent agreements with North Korea aimed at reducing their decades-long military animosity.

In a commentary, KCNA said on Tuesday that declaring the war's end should have "been resolved half a century ago", and called it "the most basic and primary process for the establishment of new DPRK-US relations and peace" on the Korean peninsula "to which the US was also committed,", referring to North Korea by its official name, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned South Korea's ambassador in Moscow on Monday and demanded that Seoul allow a Russian vessel to leave South Korea's port of Busan, the ministry said.

"Even if we deployed 11 front-line engineering units to the DMZ and nearby area, it would take about 200 years to completely remove land mines scattered in the two Koreas", an Army official said during a meeting with reporters last month.

South Korean troops have gradually taken over most operations along their side of the border but worldwide forces under the USA -led United Nations Command retain major roles, especially at the JSA, where an American commander and a South Korean deputy lead the security battalion.

North Korea has called on the USA to actively engage in talks on declaring an end to the Korean War, which was halted in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

In the "Arrow Head Hill", where some of the fiercest battles during the Korean War happened, Seoul officials believe there are remains of about 300 South Korean and United Nations forces along with an unspecified number of Chinese and North Korean remains.

Pungsans are designated a North Korean "natural monument". But critics of his engagement policy have lambasted his recent inter-Korean military deals, saying a mutual reduction of conventional military strength would eventually weaken South Korea's war readiness because the North's nuclear program largely remains intact. Past rapprochement efforts were often stalled after a standoff over the North's nuclear ambitions intensified. Kim Jong Un has subsequently held a series of summits with U.S., South Korean and Chinese leaders and taken some steps like dismantling his nuclear-testing site.

North Korea recently asked for "corresponding" reciprocal measures for the possible dismantlement of its important Yongbyon nuclear complex, a demand experts say might refer to declaring an end to the war or easing sanctions imposed on its regime.

South and North Korea are reported to have started removing landmines from along their heavily defended border.

"Some Korean issue experts of America are recently spouting such rubbish that the USA should force the DPRK to not only notify its nuclear program and have it verified but also dismantle its Nyongbyon (Yongbyon) nuclear facility and missile facility in return for the U.S. response to its call for a war-end declaration", it said. They were earlier found in North Korea during a joint 1996-2005 excavation project between the United States and North Korea.

Both sides undertook to carry out landmine removal work at the Joint Security Area (JSA) over a 20-day period, according to the South Korean defense ministry.

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