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Plan is revived to deal with North collapse

June 05,2005
SINGAPORE ― A joint U.S.-South Korean military plan to respond to a sudden collapse of the North Korean regime has been revived two months after Seoul announced it wanted the proposal shelved.
Yoon Kwang-ung, the South Korean defense minister, and his U.S. counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld, met in Singapore over the weekend and agreed to develop and upgrade the contingency program.
When the South Korean government announced in April it would bear full responsibility for responding to a collapse of the regime in Pyongyang, U.S. government and military leaders were reportedly furious at the effort to exclude U.S. forces.
But on Saturday, Shin Hyeon-don, the spokesman at the Defense Ministry, said, “The two countries decided to promote a measure that would complement and advance Plan 5029 according to related regulations and procedures.
“Strategic orders will be delivered to the Korea-U.S. Military Committee as soon as possible, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the two countries and the U.S.-South Korea Combined Forces Commander will develop the plan.”
The Military Committee is a regular meeting between the joint chiefs of staff of Korea and the United States.
Mr. Shin said a full plan will be developed by the end of the year.
The contingency plan caused a diplomatic rift between Seoul and Washington. Prepared in 1999, it was meant to deal with a sudden collapse of the North Korean regime and the mass defection of North Korean residents to South Korea.
In 2003, South Korea and the United States had agreed to transform the conceptual plan into an operational one by the end of this year.
Seoul’s complaint in April was that a joint plan would infringe upon the sovereignty of Korea, and discussions were suspended.
But Mr. Yoon and Mr. Rumsfeld met in Singapore and reached an agreement to resume developing the plan. Mr. Shin said new discussions would be conceptual in nature, and that the two defense chiefs had agreed Saturday not to develop an operational plan at the moment.
Nonetheless, military analysts said yesterday any new talks would lead to an operational plan that would detail military measures South Korea and the United States would take in a crisis situation over North Korea.
They said once concepts are developed, it is only a matter of time before the countries reach an agreement on operational responsibility.
Separately during a Saturday seminar in Singapore hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Mr. Yoon said, “North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons may lead to the collapse of the balance of military power on the Korean Peninsula. It may also lead to a nuclear arms race in the Northeast Asia and Pacific regions. It would be a grave challenge to the world’s efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”


by Kim Min-seok


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