September 14, 2020 09:59
The handover of full operational control of Korean troops to Seoul may be delayed, U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Robert Abrams has warned.
He was speaking during an online event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington last week.
Abrams warned that there is a great deal more to do until all 26 conditions for the handover laid out in 2015 by the two allies are met. He expressed concern that Seoul is rushing toward the handover before President Moon Jae-in's term in office expires in 2022, as Moon has promised.
Abrams added that the media are giving the impression that the three-step verification of Korea's operational and mission capability is the only condition for the handover. But he warned that there are many more conditions to be met before Combined Forces Command can be led by a South Korean general.
"There's more progress in 2019 than in the previous three years. And so (we are) making a lot of great strides in meeting these conditions," Abrams said. "But honestly, and I've said this multiple times before, we've got ways to go. The commitment that we have is that there's no movement of the goalposts."
He laid out the basic principles for the handover -- Korea's capability to lead the future command, the acquisition and development of an integrated anti-missile defense system for the Korean Peninsula, and a trouble-free situation on the peninsula.
Defending himself against accusation from lawmakers here that the USFK is in some way hindering progress in inter-Korean relations, Abrams said, "There's just frankly so many falsehoods that have been spread."
United Nations Command, which he heads "does not enforce UN sanctions. Does not. Doesn't have the authority and nor will it," he said.
"It is obligated, however, as a member, and under the auspices of the United Nations to report any potential violations, but it absolutely does not enforce UN sanctions."
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