Fleet commanders to recommend new military powers for emergencies
Published : 2013-03-21 19:49
Updated : 2013-03-21 19:49
With inter-Korean tensions escalating, the South Korean Cabinet approved a revised bill Thursday that allows fleet commanders to recommend instating or lifting a state of united defense to better respond to naval threats.
Under the revision, fleet commanders can propose to a mayor or governor of a certain jurisdiction to either issue or lift the united defense situation in times of a security crisis, according to the officials.
The United Defense Act stipulates that the chief of the district shall declare his area a state of united defense after receiving approval from a relevant committee if the country suffers from a disruption of public order due to either massive attacks by enemy forces or any other threats. Under this state, the military can designate a control zone in which it can effectively ban civilians from when necessary.
The revision also allows local authorities to create this restricted zone even before the state is issued if their region comes under a specific level of threat from provocations or invasion, the officials added.
“The revised bill aims to better respond to invasions, provocations or any other types of threats, including those posed by North Korea,” said a military officer. “By giving the commanders who are at the front lines more active roles, we will be able to deal with the threats more swiftly and effectively.”
The approved bill is expected to take effect within three months, according to the officer.
As in the most recent case, Ongjin County, which governs the Yellow Sea island of Yeonpyeong that borders North Korea, approved a military request to declare the island a control zone in November 2010 when it was bombarded by a North Korean artillery attack that killed four South Koreans.
Inter-Korean tensions have been mounting in recent weeks with Pyongyang repeatedly threatening to attack Seoul as well as Washington in response to an annual joint military drill between the U.S. and South Korea and for being slapped with fresh sanctions by the U.N. Security Council for its third nuclear test, which was conducted in February.
Presiding over the weekly Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Chung Hong-won called for heightened alert against possible provocations by the North, according to his office.
“The joint military drill Key Resolve ends today, but the ministries concerned are required to maintain a high alert to respond swiftly and thoroughly to any chance of provocation,” Chung said.
Pointing to the painful incident of the North’s torpedoing of a South Korean Navy warship, the Cheonan, in the Yellow Sea on March 26, 2010, he stressed the importance of national security and called for “a firm sense of security and the national unity of the people.” (Yonhap News)