Südkorea/USA — U.S., South Korea to Delay Transfer of Wartime Control

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2010 — The Unit­ed States and South Korea have agreed to delay until Decem­ber 2015 the trans­fer of wartime oper­a­tional con­trol of troops on the Kore­an penin­su­la to South Korea, the two nations’ pres­i­dents announced fol­low­ing a June 26 meet­ing in Toron­to.

Spe­cif­ic details of how the wartime oper­a­tional con­trol will shift will be for­mu­lat­ed next month dur­ing meet­ings in the South Kore­an cap­i­tal of Seoul, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials said. Trans­fer of con­trol had been sched­uled for April 2012. The change reaf­firms the impor­tance of the U.S. mil­i­tary alliance with South Korea, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma said.

South Kore­an offi­cials dis­cussed extend­ing the trans­fer date with U.S. offi­cials even before North Korea tor­pe­doed and sank the South Kore­an ship Cheo­nan on March 26, South Kore­an Pres­i­dent Lee Myung-bak said.

Extend­ing the dead­line will allow the ulti­mate trans­fer to pro­ceed more smooth­ly and allow the U.S. and South Kore­an mil­i­taries to be more in sync, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials said.

“We have arrived at an agree­ment that the tran­si­tion of oper­a­tional con­trol for alliance activ­i­ties in the Kore­an penin­su­la will take place in 2015,” Oba­ma said. “This gives us appro­pri­ate time … with­in the exist­ing secu­ri­ty con­text, to do this right, because this alliance is the lynch­pin of not only secu­ri­ty for the Repub­lic of Korea and the Unit­ed States, but also for the Pacif­ic as a whole.”

Oba­ma and Lee dis­cussed the Cheo­nan inci­dent, and what will hap­pen in the months ahead. “We agreed that Korea and the Unit­ed States, that we will do all that we can to deter any acts of North Kore­an aggres­sion lev­eled against us, and that we will react swift­ly and strong­ly so that this will not hap­pen again,” Lee said through a trans­la­tor.

He said the South Kore­an gov­ern­ment is work­ing through the Unit­ed Nations Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil to bring about a strong­ly word­ed state­ment con­demn­ing North Korea. “We also agreed on the fol­low-up activ­i­ties that we would be joint­ly tak­ing between Korea and the Unit­ed States,” Lee said.

Dur­ing a news con­fer­ence at the G-20 meet­ings in Toron­to yes­ter­day, Oba­ma praised Lee’s restraint fol­low­ing the sink­ing of the Cheo­nan, which killed 46 South Kore­an sailors.

“It is absolute­ly crit­i­cal that the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty ral­ly behind him, and send a clear mes­sage to North Korea that this kind of behav­ior is unac­cept­able,” Oba­ma said, “and that the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty will con­tin­ue to step up pres­sure until it makes a deci­sion to fol­low a path that is con­sis­tent with inter­na­tion­al norms.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)