The handover of full control over South Korean troops to Seoul in 2012 could be affected by the internal situation in South and North Korea at the time, according to an American Korea expert.
Larry Niksch of the Center for Strategic and International Studies made the remarks in a lecture at the KORUS House of the South Korean Embassy in Washington on Wednesday.
Nicksch said given past accidents involving U.S. soldiers in South Korea that sparked an enormous outcry, such events could affect the decision of the governments of the two countries. The presidential election in South Korea in 2012 could also be a variable in the troop control handover, he added.
He said there is a possibility that Seoul and Washington could indefinitely delay the handover if North Korea succeeds in developing long-range missiles that can hit the U.S. mainland and nuclear warheads that can be mounted on missiles by 2012.
But he warned that in that case it will be necessary to explain to the South Korean people the exact background of the decision and present a detailed new timetable. Otherwise, many who see the issue as a question of national independence would suspect that the two countries are attempting to scrap the plan altogether.