Ex-USFK Chiefs Say U.S. Doesn't Need Seoul's OK for Military Action

  • By Kim Deok-han

    August 24, 2017 09:25

    Former chiefs of the U.S. Forces Korea insist Washington would not need Seoul's approval to strike North Korea with its "offshore military assets," the Voice of America reported on Wednesday.

    They were contradicting President Moon Jae-in, who said in his speech marking Liberation Day on Aug. 15, "Without the consent of [South Korea], no country can determine to take military action."

    Burwell Bell, the USFK commander from 2006 to 2008, said, "In accordance with international law, the United States would not need South Korean approval, cooperation to strike the North with our own offshore military assets."

    "These assets could be launched from the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, and on the high seas near North Korea," he added. "Other allied partners such as Japan, Australia, etc. could participate in combat operations without receiving approval from [South Korea] as long as they remained offshore."


    And James Thurman, the commander from 2011 to 2013, said, "Every sovereign nation has a right to defend itself. It has an inherent right of self-defense." When North Korean fires on Yeonpyeong Island, "the South Koreans have every right to fire back and protect themselves if they are engaged, and just like if there is a missile fired toward Guam, the U.S. has an inherent right to protect sovereign territory."

    David Maxwell of Georgetown University's Center for Security Studies said no clause in the U.S. Constitution stipulates that the U.S. needs an ally's approval to take necessary action to defend itself.

    "Any nation has the right to act to protect its security," he said. "If the U.S. believes that North Korea is going to launch an attack on U.S. territory and determines that it is necessary to take action to defend the U.S. and its people then the U.S. can and will take action either without consultation or if South Korea 'disapproved.'"

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