[Reuters, 22nd Seoul]–President Moon Jae-in appeared in the back seat of a fighter plane on the 20th at the largest weapons exhibition ever held in Seoul. The production is far from the image of a leader who is enthusiastic about achieving peace with North Korea.
Under the Moon administration, South Korea not only inherited many of the military programs approved by successive conservative governments, but its already huge defense budget hit a record high, and even against its own missile development program. Negotiations were also underway to lift the restrictions by the United States. It has also announced plans to build Korea’s first aircraft carrier, with a large selection of advanced weapons.
Whatever the consequences of President Moon’s final efforts to improve relations with North Korea ahead of his retirement in May next year, such armament buildup will be a long-term legacy of the Moon administration. It looks like it will be.
This seems to be inconsistent with the liberal President Moon’s efforts toward peace on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea points out that this strengthening of armaments is an example of the hostile dishonesty that South Korea and its allies, the United States, show.
However, according to officials and analysts, one of President Moon’s main motives is to increase independence in the alliance with the United States, and eventually the South Korean side will command the operations of the Eurocorps during the war. It is said that he wants to carry it, and for that reason, he seems to have thought that the risk of stimulating North Korea is unavoidable.
One of the South Korean government’s diplomatic officials said, “I was wondering when the Moon administration unveiled an F35 fighter purchased from the United States in 2019. Why do you make such a move, knowing that you can do it? ” “But after a while, I realized that in President Moon’s concept of self-sustaining national defense, whatever he planned would be carried out.”
If a new battle breaks out after the Korean War of 1950-53, which ended with an armistice agreement instead of a peace treaty, the U.S. military will station about 28,500 people on the Korean Peninsula, with hundreds of thousands of South Koreans. It is supposed to take command of the army.
President Moon’s main goal was to secure control of the Eurocorps, but it was impossible to achieve it during the short term left due to delays in consideration due to the corona wreck and other issues. Became.
However, according to the diplomatic officials mentioned above, President Moon “seems to have decided to continue to level the ground for future transfer of command through strengthening the armament, no matter who the successor president will be.” The person concerned responded to the interview on condition of anonymity because it was a diplomatically sensitive topic.
Officials point out that there are other factors behind President Moon’s strengthening of military power, most notably the genuine concern over the growing threat from North Korea.
Furthermore, strengthening military power will be a new business opportunity for domestic defense-related companies, increasing prestige as a nation, and from conservatives who say that the Korea-US alliance is being shaken by the compromise to North Korea. It also leads to dodging the criticism of.
<"Peace through power">
South Korean military officials said that strengthening military power was a natural step for President Moon to build peace with North Korea in a superior position while weakening his dependence on the United States. ..
“President Moon’s move gives important implications, meaning that South Korea is ready to take the lead in peace on the Korean Peninsula, not as part of its allies,” said the person. Said. He wants to remain anonymous because it is still a sensitive issue.
“While promoting peace backed by power, the current administration has not given up on its ties with the North,” said the person. “We will endeavor to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table, and in line with that effort, we have raised the subject of the end of the war.”
In a speech at the UN General Assembly in September, President Moon called for a formal end to the Korean War, thereby breaking the stagnation in negotiations aimed at denuclearizing North Korea in exchange for the lifting of sanctions by the United States. He said it would be easier.
In recent years, North Korea has conducted several short-range missile test shots, with analysts saying it was intended to evade South Korea’s defense network. North Korea has also shown some movements in response to South Korea’s movements, holding a weapons exhibition against the South Korean side and a few weeks after South Korea conducted its own submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test. Is also conducting a test shot of SLBM.
North Korea has repeatedly protested South Korea’s procurement of weapons and joint training with the U.S. military, destabilizing the Korean Peninsula by strengthening its own military power while South Korea applies dual standards to armament development. He criticizes him for letting him.
Meanwhile, South Korean officials say that North Korea is willing to ignore or downplay South Korea’s military movements at its convenience.
“Although it is clear that South Korean weapons are not welcome to North Korea, there is no strong backlash. A strategy to pretend that it is normal and justify its own weapons development. I’m wondering if that’s the case, “said the person who first introduced it. “But with no disarmament mechanism or means of building trust between the north and the south, the arms race is heading in a very dangerous direction.”
(Hyonhee Shin reporter, translation: Acrelen)