The militaries of the two Koreas agreed to verify each other’s work on the removal of 22 guard posts next week, Seoul’s Defense Ministry said Thursday, in an effort to sustain the momentum of a detente between the two Koreas.
The Ministry of National Defense will conduct an on-site verification on Dec. 12 to ensure the guard posts were dismantled or destroyed as pledged after the two Koreas pulled back their troops and ammunition from the posts.
While the two Koreas agreed to “completely destroy” 22 guard posts after signing a comprehensive military agreement at the inter-Korean summit in September, they decided to preserve two posts for historic value.
“Mutual verification shows that the two Koreas’ militaries put actions into words,” said Vice Minister of National Defense Suh Choo-suk. “It’s a rare, exemplary case in terms of the efforts related to arms control.”
Led by a colonel-level officer, the verification team will consist of five verification personnel and two filming staff from each side’s military. The two Koreas will also build a cross-border path to connect the guard posts where verification will take place.
When the verification work kicks off, the two Koreas will meet at the Military Demarcation Line inside the heavily-fortified Demilitarized Zone. South Korea will verify the North’s guard posts in the morning, while the North will check the South’s in the afternoon.
The Defense Ministry said it will ensure that North Korea took “irreversible” measure when it exploded 10 guard posts last month. The North’s guard posts are considered to include underground facilities.
“Engineering experts and those capable of verifying underground facilities will be dispatched for verification work,” a senior defense official told reporters, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Following the inter-Korean summit in September, the defense chiefs of the two Koreas pledged to remove all guard posts inside the DMZ, starting with the withdrawal of guard posts within 1 kilometer of the Military Demarcation Line as a “preliminary measure.”
According to defense officials here, North Korea operates about 160 guard posts inside the DMZ along the 250-kilometer-long swath of land. The South Korean military is believed to have 60 guard posts within the DMZ.