Pyongyang is still enemy No. 1 in new White Paper

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Pyongyang is still enemy No. 1 in new White Paper

In its latest Defense White Paper, South Korea has decided to maintain its position that the North Korean regime and its military are the nation’s “primary enemies.”

A senior South Korean official told the JoongAng Ilbo on Monday that the 2014 Defense White Paper, to be published early next year by the Ministry of National Defense, will continue to refer to the North as the South’s primary enemy due to the nuclear-armed Communist regime’s consistent provocations. “North Korea continues to commit actions that are threats to our security,” the official said. “It conducted its third nuclear test in February last year and continued missile-firing tests this year.

“Recently, North Korea also opened fire toward the anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent by South Korean civic groups, and some of the bullets landed in the South. North Korean soldiers are also conducting reconnaissance missions by approaching close to the military demarcation line,” he said. “Because military tensions have escalated, we decided to keep the concept of [the North as our] main enemy.”

The ministry reported its plans to continue to refer to North Korea as its primary enemy to Defense Minister Han Min-koo and he approved the concept, another source said.

South Korea publishes the Defense White Paper biannually. The report details changes in the North Korean military’s capabilities, the security situation in Northeast Asia, the alliance between South Korea and the United States, as well as military and diplomatic activities with its neighbors.

Whether to include North Korea as its “main enemy” has long been a subject of controversy. After North Korean negotiator Pak Yong-su threatened to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire” in 1994 during inter-Korean talks, the South began referring to the North as its main enemy starting with the 1995 Defense White Paper.

However, concerns about that surfaced after the historic 2000 inter-Korean summit, and the ministry did not publish the Defense White Paper for some years. In the 2004 report, the term was eliminated, and instead the North’s conventional forces, weapons of mass destruction and forward-deployed troops were deemed “direct military threats” to South Korea.

The idea of North Korea as Seoul’s “main enemy” returned in 2012 on the orders of President Lee Myung-bak after it was determined that North Korea had torpedoed the South Korean Cheonan warship in 2010 and subsequently shelled Yeonpyeong Island.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO, SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]




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