Pyongyang Cites Forgotten Inter-Korean Agreement for Demands

      May 24, 2010 11:58

      North Korea's defense minister on Saturday suddenly recalled an inter-Korean agreement which he said would allow inspectors from Pyongyang to verify evidence in the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan. North Korea had completely neglected and declared null and void the 1992 Basic Agreement between the two Koreas, but now Kim Yong-chun said it obliges the South to "unconditionally allow an inspection group" from the North's National Defense Commission to look into the accusations that Pyongyang sank the ship on March 26.

      Kim said in a statement sent to Seoul, "There is no reason for the South not to allow in our inspectors if the findings of its probe are objective and scientific. It is also justified based on Chapter 2 Article 10 of the Basic Agreement and Chapter 2 Article 8 of the Annex."

      Chapter 2 Article 10 stipulates that North and South Korea must resolve confrontation and disputes through dialogue. Meanwhile, Chapter 2 Article 8 of the Annex states that North and South Korea will conduct a joint investigation if the agreement is violated to find out who is responsible for the violation and seek ways to prevent a recurrence.

      A South Korean security official said North Korea's sudden recollection of the agreement "shows how urgent the situation is."

      The North signed the Basic Agreement on nonaggression in 1992 in a bid to avert crisis at a time when the communist regimes of Eastern Europe had toppled. But it has made no effort to comply with it.

      "Blowing up the Cheonan itself was a clear violation of Article 5 of the Basic Agreement stipulating observance of the Armistice Agreement and Article 9 on the non-use of arms," a Unification Ministry official said. "They've now turned on us even though they were in the wrong. It's like a thief calling stop thief."

      Kim said there is "no justification" for South Korea to invite the Military Armistice Commission, an international body set up to oversee the detente, "because the latest incident was fabricated as an inter-Korean issue by the South." He turned down South Korea's offer to have the MAC conduct a separate probe first and then for UN Command to hold talks with the North.

      Prof. Lee Jo-won of Chungang University said the North "is trying to obscure the truth by sending an inspection team before China sides with us at the upcoming Seoul-Beijing-Tokyo summit" this month.

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