| Press Statement related to the “Five-year Delay of the US Base Relocation Plan”|
We condemn the Ministry of National Defense for driving forward the base expansion!
It has been reported that the deadline for the expansion of the US military base in Pyongtaek, which was scheduled to be completed by 2008, has been delayed until 2013 due to difficulties in negotiations between the United States and Korea and the anti-base struggle. This signals and important chance in the Pyongtaek base expansion process. Looking at records produced by the Ministry of National Defense, it is clear that the MND has accepted the delay as inevitable because of the tug-of-war between the two countries over the proportion of the base relocation expenses each will pay. Although the government has not even completed the full plan for base construction, it has become clear that South Korea is expected to pay a majority of the relocations expenses. The MND is insisting that the main reason for the delay is the anti-base expansion protests led by the KCPT. This assertion is, however, a crude trick.
In fact, it has been foreseen since the agreement on the base relocation was ratified in Parliament that the base expansion could not be completed by 2008. And, on April 30 2006, just before the forced take-over over Daechuri and Doduri began, Kyung-suh Park, head of the US base transfer project, stated “the base transfer requires too much work to be completled by 2008” during dialogue between the government and KCPT. It had been known from the beginning, that the relocation of the base would be this difficult. This means that it was never urgently necessary to forcibly seize the residents’ farmland. However, on last May 4th, the MND erected barbed wire on newly seeded fields and destroyed the Daechuri elementary school, which was beloved by the community, in order to occupy the residents’ land.
Despite knowing it was impossible to complete the base construction by 2008, the government authorities, lead by the MND, deceived the Korean people and used merciless tactics to suppress the anti-base expansion movement. We strongly condemn these anti-democratic, anti-human rights actions and demand that the immediate removal of the barbed wired, restoration of the land to the residents’ and protection of its cultivation.
The government has completely ignored our demand that the agreement to expand the US base in Pyongtaek be fully renegotiated. However now it has become evident that renegotiations concerning the timeline for the base transfer must take place. We insist that the subject of the renegotiations not be limited simply to the relocation time-period. Although the government has continued to publicly ignore the character and meaning of the base transfer it has been confirmed by the authorities of both countries that it is in accordance with the United States’ plan for the overseas stationing of its troops and the “strategic flexibility of the American forces”. In addition, the reduction and dismantling of the 8th Army Command, the dissolution of the US-Korean Joint Command and the additional reduction of US troops are all in process. If these developments take place the construction of the base or at least the scale of the base and related expense issues will have to be fully reconsidered.
Over 80% of the Korean people are calling for renegotiation. This tells you that the demand for renegotiations is truly a popular demand. Therefore, we strongly insist to the authorities of both countries that the negotiations cover the entire question of the base relocation and expansion, not only the timeline, and that the agreement concerning the project be completely revised.
In the midst of everything the government is talking about an additional 40,000 pyoeng expansion, reduction of the expenses, etc., etc. In fact the base expansion is not even worthy of consideration at this moment. In addition the majority of the expenses for clearing pollution from returned base land will fall to South Korea, and there is a plot to include the price of the housing for the families of soldiers in the defense budget. It is clear that all the talk about reduction in expenses is just a charade to fool the nation.
We demand that the government stop its threatening the residents and deceiving the people of Korea. We demand that it sincerely open its ears to the voice of the residents and completely renegotiate the matter of the base expansion.
The changes we have outlined greatly affect the agreement that Parliament passed. The only proper response is to hold hearing to fully discuss and reconsider these issues. This is the only way for Parliament, which has up to now been abandoning its recommendations and responsibilities, to truly make up for its errors.
15 December 2005
Korean Committee against US Base Expansion in Pyongtaek