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‘Korea proposed review of OPCON transfer in May’

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said Friday they proposed reviewing the transfer of wartime operational control during their talks with the U.S. counterparts since May.

“We shared our thoughts with the U.S. Forces Korea commander in early May and conveyed the same message to U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel,” said Defense Ministry deputy spokesman Colonel Wee Yong-sub.

Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin further explained to Hagel in their meeting at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June, but used the word “review” instead of “postpone,” Wee said.

The two sides are expected to meet later this month for a high-level defense meeting and address the proposed delay in the transition of wartime operational control slated for December 2015, reports said. The Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue will be held on July 30-31 in Seoul.

Meanwhile, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs General Martin E. Dempsey expressed caution about the issue on Thursday.

“From a military perspective, the timing of the transfer of wartime OPCON is appropriate,” said Dempsey in a written response to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

There have however been “some setbacks” in South Korea added Dempsey, expressing concern over the South Korean military’s ability to wield operational command.

Wee refused to comment on Dempsey’s remarks but said they believed his response was submitted last month (before the calls grew in Korea for a postponement of the transfer).

The defense minister also remained optimistic, telling the National Assembly on Thursday that he expected the U.S. to review the proposal “constructively” and that he hoped to finalize plans at the semiannual Security Consultative Meetings planned for Oct. 2. 

By Jeong Hunny (hj257@heraldcorp.com)
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