North Korea is trying to use the US' proposals for UN reform as a means to end more than five decades of a US-led military presence protecting South Korea from attack.
In a letter circulated on Thursday that was addressed to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, North Korean Ambassador Pak Gil-yon called the US-led UN Command "illegal" and said it should be dismantled.
The UN Command in South Korea was created shortly after North Korea invaded on June 25, 1950, when the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for nations to militarily assist South Korea.
About 15 countries sent troops to fight alongside South Korean and US forces to repel North Korean and later communist Chinese forces.
The 1953 armistice ending the war left the Korean peninsula divided with troops from the multinational UN Command and North Korea patrolling opposite sides of the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that separates communist North Korea from South Korea.
Today, the only foreign combat troops in South Korea are from the US, but other countries occasionally send liaison officers or their embassy military attaches to UN Command meetings.
Pak said he was writing to Annan to reiterate North Korea's position on the UN Command "in the light of UN reform."
The UN is in the throes of an overhaul of its post-World War II structures and management practices, and the US has made a series of reform proposals, as have other countries in the 191-nation world body.
"The United States, referring to UN reform, argued that peacekeeping operations that have not played a due role in ending conflicts and securing peace and stability, or have lasted longer than necessary, should be terminated," Pak said.
"In this regard, we hold that dismantling the `illegal UN Command' that has existed in South Korea for more than half a century is indeed the number one target of UN reform," he said.
"We cannot think of true UN reform if hangovers from the past century that do not have an actual relationship with the UN are left intact because the superpower has a hand in them," Pak said.
Benjamin Chang, a spokesman for the US Mission to the UN, said on Thursday that he had not seen the letter, but that generally speaking "real UN reform" begins at UN headquarters in New York. Officials at the State Department in Washington also said they had not seen it and could not comment.
While a cease-fire has been in place since 1953, the Korean War is technically not over.
Pak said the continued existence of the UN Command, which he claims was "fabricated unlawfully" by the US, "creates obstacles to the settlement of the Korean issue and damages the credibility of the UN."
NASA scientists on Friday presented striking early images from the picture-perfect landing of the Mars rover Perseverance, including a selfie of the six-wheeled vehicle dangling just above the surface of the Red Planet moments before touchdown. The color photograph, likely to become an instant classic among memorable images from the history of spaceflight, was snapped by a camera mounted on the rocket-powered “sky crane” descent-stage just above the rover as the car-sized space vehicle was being lowered on Thursday to Martian soil. The image was unveiled by mission managers during an online news briefing Webcast from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near
A rogue overgrown sheep found roaming through regional Australia has been shorn of his 35kg fleece — a weight even greater than that of the famous New Zealand sheep Shrek, who was captured in 2005 after six years on the loose. The merino ram, dubbed Baarack by rescuers, was discovered wandering alone with an extraordinarily overgrown wool coat, and was promptly shorn to save his life. Kyle Behrend, from the Edgar’s Mission farm sanctuary, said that it appeared Baarack was “once an owned sheep” who had escaped. Merino sheep do not shed their fleece and need to be shorn at least annually, as
Three years after a deadly virus struck India’s endangered Asiatic lions in their last remaining natural habitat, conservationists are hunting for new homes to help booming prides roam free. The majestic big cats, slightly smaller than their African cousins and with a fold of skin along their bellies, were once found widely across southwest Asia. Hunting and human encroachment saw the population plunge to just 20 by 1913, and the lions are now found only in a wildlife sanctuary in India’s western Gujarat State. Following years of concerted government efforts, the lion population in Gir National Park has swelled to nearly 700, according
DMZ SWIM: Over more than three hours, South Korean surveillance cameras caught him eight times and audible alarms sounded twice, but border guards did not notice A North Korean defector wore a diving suit and fins during a daring six-hour swim around one of the world’s most fortified borders and was only caught after apparently falling asleep, a Seoul official said. South Korean forces did not spot the man’s audacious exploit, despite his appearance several times on surveillance cameras after he landed and triggered alarms, drawing heavy criticism from media and opposition lawmakers. Even after his presence was noticed, the man — who used diving gear to make his way by sea around the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the Korean Peninsula — was not caught for another