[EDITORIALS]A worrisome neglect of dutyIt has been discovered that our government had hidden from the public the fact that the United States had informed it a year ago of its intention to abolish the maintenance program of the War Reserve Stock for Allies (WRSA) by the end of next year. The government admitted the facts belatedly only after the United States abruptly made them public. It is worrisome how much further Korea-U.S. relations might deteriorate.
The WRSA program, which includes some 580,000 metric tons of ammunition, including missiles, accounts for 60 percent of the ammunition to be used in case of a war on the Korean Peninsula. Considering that the South Korean military can only hold out for 10 days on its own ammunition, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of the WRSA program. The monetary value of the program is over 5 trillion won ($4.9 billion), approximately one-fourth of our entire defense budget. It is a neglect of duty that our government didn’t inform the public of the U.S. announcement to abolish such an important program.
The Defense Ministry’s excuse, that it didn’t inform the public because there was no progress in the negotiations, does not make sense. The United States informed it when the reduction of U.S. forces here became a reality with the partial realignment of troops to Iraq. People worried over national security, but government only emphasized independent defense. Then, why didn’t it announce the abolishment? It cried out independent defense, but reality didn’t allow it. So it couldn’t dissipate people’s worry over security.
Meanwhile, there are rumors that the U.S. forces will hand over the equipment used to deter possible long-distance missile attacks from North Korea to the South Korean military and that a U.S. Air Force regiment will withdraw from South Korea.
We worry if it signals a crack in the Korea-U.S. alliance. What shall we do if a contingency breaks out without having enough ammunition? It is also strange that the U.S. forces here announced independently what our government had tried to keep a secret at this time. Does this mean that the U.S. forces here feel no need to talk with our government or military officials?
Is this the “cooperative independent defense” that our government has been crying about? The tension between our government and the United States is truly a reason for concern.