Gov't in Muddle Over Frontline Artillery

  • By Jun Hyun-suk

    June 26, 2018 12:59

    The government is in a muddle over frontline long-range artillery after Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Monday that negotiations are underway between the two Koreas to remove it to rear areas.

    Lee later reversed his claim, saying, "There were no formal negotiations on the topic."

    Military authorities had also flagged the suspension of live fire artillery drills on the northwesternmost islands off North Korea's coast in the West Sea, but said later nothing has been decided.

    Lee made the first claim at a ceremony marking the 68th anniversary of the Korean War.

    Reports said that North Korean delegates to cross-border military talks on June 14 proposed moving artillery pieces with a range of 40 to 60 km concentrated near the demilitarized zone to rear areas. But the Defense Ministry here has denied this.

    After Lee made the remarks, the ministry still insisted that the topic never came up.

    Six hours later, Lee's office issued a press release claiming the issue "was at one point reviewed in South Korea but not yet officially discussed at the military talks." But it tried to save Lee's face by saying it is "one of many topics to be discussed in future cross-border military talks."

    The K-9 self-propelled howitzers are there to protect islanders from North Korean attacks like the North’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island on Nov. 23, 2010. The howitzers immediately fired back, destroying several North Korean facilities. Scores of North Korean soldiers were reportedly killed and wounded.

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