October 24, 2018 11:07
President Moon Jae-in signed an inter-Korean military agreement into law in a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday without subjecting it to scrutiny by the National Assembly. He also signed into law a joint declaration drawn up by the leaders of the two Koreas at their summit in September.
Moon earlier stressed that the inter-Korean pacts must be adhered to even if the administration changes.
"The declaration takes effect after being published in the government gazette while the military agreement takes effect on both sides after documents are exchanged with North Korea," a Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said.
But opposition parties said Moon had overstepped his constitutional rights in ratifying the military agreement by decree. The Liberty Korea Party said the agreement falls under the category of an "agreement concerning national security," which requires National Assembly ratification under the Constitution.
The main opposition party vowed to take legal steps to block the exchange of documents unless it is submitted to the National Assembly for passage.
The military agreement includes wide-ranging disarmament along the border, including an expanded no-fly zone that critics say severely hampers surveillance activities and aerial maneuvers by South Korea and the U.S. Forces Korea. Moon said in the meeting, "Improving cross-border relations and easing military tension will facilitate the process of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula."
The agreement also establishes a maritime buffer zone where artillery fire and military exercises are prohibited. Cheong Wa Dae insisted it can be ratified by the president without National Assembly passage.
Presidential chief of staff Im Jong-seok told reporters, "Parliamentary passage would be necessary for things that create significant fiscal burdens, but I think this is a different matter."
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