[EDITORIALS]Resist North's tacticsProjects for the historic relinking of cross-border roads and adjacent railways between the two Koreas are under way. But the task ran into an unexpected hurdle during negotiations to reach a pact on the temporary guarantee of safe passage along the corridors. The problem has occurred because of differences between the United Nations Command and North Korea over whether the areas around the roads and the railways are a part of the 50-year-old Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas and are under the Armistice Agreement that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War.
The UN Command, a signatory to the truce, claims that the area is part of the Demilitarized Zone and thus is subject to the ceasefire accord. North Korea maintains that the transportation corridors no longer belong to the no-weapons zone and that the UN Command has no right to intervene.
The UN Command and the North agreed in November 2000 to designate the areas in the Demilitarized Zone to be controlled jointly by Seoul and Pyeongyang. Under the accord, any military issue in the areas would be dealt with through negotiations between the militaries of the two Koreas. Following the agreement, the UN Command transferred its administrative control over the areas to Seoul. But the command also said that the areas are part of the Demilitarized Zone, which is subject to the Armistice Agreement.
By contrast, North Korea denies the UN Command jurisdiction over the joint areas, citing a pact signed in September that allows the military authorities of the two Koreas to solve through dialogue problems in the areas.
The North Korean army brought light machine guns into the Demilitarized Zone in violation of the Armistice Agreement and the September military pact. The incident has raised serious questions about the North's trustworthiness. North Korea seemingly intends to invalidate the Armistice Agreement and ignore the UN Command's authority. South Korea must take a firm stance. Pyeongyang must not be allowed to delay the reconnection of the transportation routes by sticking with parochial issues.
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