Han refuses to report on war plan

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Han refuses to report on war plan

Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo this week refused the National Assembly’s request for a report on the details of the newly signed Operational Plan (OPLAN) 5015 between Seoul and Washington, citing security reasons.

The JoongAng Ilbo confirmed on Tuesday that the National Assembly’s Defense Committee requested a report on OPLAN 5015 between Korea and the United States in June. However, in a rare occurrence, the Defense Ministry responded under Han’s orders that these details could not be submitted for security reasons.

The OPLAN 5015 replaced an earlier war plan known as OPLAN 5027 to counter a North Korean invasion with a more assertive plan than before. OPLAN 5027 was based on the idea that if North Korea invaded, South Korean and U.S. forces would first retract, realign and then strike back.

“While current law is such that the administration cannot reject the National Assembly when it requests to report to it, reporting on the OPLAN is difficult,” a Defense Ministry official explained. “We submitted a form signed by Defense Minister Han Min-koo on Monday explaining that such a report is not possible.”

The act on testimony or appraisal before the National Assembly mandates that for parliamentary inspection and audits, no governmental agency or branch can refuse to submit any documents or evidence requested by parliament.

However, some room is granted under Article 4, Clause 1 of the same act, which states: “the foregoing shall not apply where those matters are concerning state conspiracies in the military, diplomatic area, or in North Korea area, and it is explained by the competent minister that disclosure thereof would have a vital effect on the national security, within five days after he/she receives the request for testimony.”

Defense Minister Han applied this exemption in refusing to disclose the new operation plan.

“OPLAN 5015 is a state secret and a military secret,” Han said in the explanation he submitted to the National Assembly’s defense committee. “Should the operation plan, a state secret related to military, diplomatic and North Korea relations, be revealed, it could have a critical impact on national security.”

He continued, “In the case that the operation plan be revealed, as the most significant outline on how to carry out war on the Korean Peninsula, this could inevitably lead to the serious problem of having to terminate the existing operation plan and having to devise a new one.”

Han’s explanation seemed to calm tensions between the National Assembly’s defense committee and the Joint Chiefs of Staff over OPLAN 5015. The defense committee on Sept. 11 demanded an explanation of the operation plan from the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the auditing period but was rebuffed.

The issue was raised again this month during the National Assembly’s audit sessions.

In response, Rep. Chung Doo-un, a Saenuri Party lawmaker on the National Defense Committee, said on Oct. 8: “If it is not possible to report, do so through the law.”

Lawmakers in the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy Party (NPAD), however, did not agree.

“There are negative views [to request such an exemption citing the law] if there is not enough content to back it up,” said NPAD Rep. Yoon Hu-duk, a member of the defense committee.

The committee is considering holding a meeting to discuss the issue and review how to handle it.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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