Minister strives to quell ex-generals’ skepticism over inter-Korean military accord

SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo on Monday sought to squelch retired generals' worries over the September inter-Korean military accord, saying the government will enforce it while maintaining a "watertight" defense posture.

Jeong visited the Korea Retired Generals and Admirals Association, which has been skeptical of the accord aimed at building trust and reducing military tensions, based on its suspicion that the communist state could exploit it to its advantage.

"Our military will realize 'peace through strength' by maintaining a watertight readiness posture," Jeong was quoted by his ministry as saying.

"We will maintain a robust national security to ensure that you will not be apprehensive about it," he added.

The conservative association called for caution in enforcing the accord, saying the North is seeking to "neutralize" a series of things, including the Northern Limit Line, a de facto inter-Korean sea border, the U.S.-led United Nations Command and the South Korea-U.S. alliance.

"(The association) voiced worries that the cart has been put before the horse as measures in the military sector should have been taken after considerable progress in inter-Korean exchanges in other areas has been made with trust built between the two sides," the association said in a statement.

The military agreement includes disarming the Joint Security Area in the Demilitarized Zone, conducting a joint project to excavate Korean War remains in the DMZ and setting up air, ground and maritime buffer zones.

Critics argue that the agreement would weaken South Korea's military readiness when the North has yet to take any significant steps towards denuclearization such as a full declaration of its nuclear and missile programs.

Seoul officials believe that despite persistent concerns, conventional arms control measures and trust-building steps would help facilitate ongoing efforts to denuclearize the North.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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