[EDITORIALS]A welcome agreementSouth Korea and the United States have agreed that the Con Plan 5029, which is the U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command plan to prepare for the collapse of North Korea, will be supplemented and developed to a point before conversion into an operational plan in complete format.
The agreement, which was concluded in a brief meeting between South Korean Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during an Asian Defense Ministers meeting Saturday, is a welcome sign that this issue, which had been the subject of much controversy, can be solved if the two parties set their differences aside.
The agreement was all the more welcome as it would help to stabilize the Korea-U.S. alliance, damaged by the rift between South Korea and the United States and uncertainties about its future.
This plan in concept format would take effect in case of civil insurgencies in North Korea, the collapse of the North Korean regime, a massive refugee situation or other contingencies. As such, the plan is bound to raise questions about the line between the sovereignty of South Korea and the authority of the U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command that will only be mitigated by Seoul and Washington arriving at an understanding beforehand through scrupulous research.
It is natural and fortunate that the top defense policymakers of the two countries have decided to establish a team to develop this plan further. However, as the plan must include a far more general range of contingencies than those in the U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command plan, it is possible that the differences of opinion between the two sides on future military operations will be exposed.
However, there is no need to harbor unnecessary misunderstandings about the Korea-U.S. alliance, which has been an important foundation of the stabilization of the Northeast Asian region for more than 50 years. If the two sides continue to work together under the major principle that the Korea-U.S. alliance should be fortified and that peace and security must be established on the Korean Peninsula, it will only be a matter of time before the differences are settled and a new agreement is reached.
Hopefully, this spirit and principle of cooperation will continue in the Korea-U.S. summit meeting to be held in Washington on Saturday and the two allies will reach a firm consensus on resolving North Korea’s nuclear program and alleviating the fear of our people.