SEOUL, Aug. 21 (UPI) — Amid détente on the Korean peninsula, South Korea’s defense ministry may cross out its definition of North Korea as an enemy in its upcoming white paper, according to a government source, Yonhap reported.
The source told Yonhap that the defense ministry considers deleting the phrase stating North Korea as an enemy in the white paper for this year.
For the South Korean military, North Korea has long been an enemy whose nuclear weapons and missiles pose major threats to the security of the country.
The 2016 white paper states that North Korea’s nuclear weapons, cyber-attacks and terrorism pose major threats to South Korea’s security and the regime remains an “enemy insofar as they are the agents carrying out these threats.”
The defense ministry has stated North Korea as an enemy in white papers since 2010 when the North attacked the South’s westernmost border island of Yeonpyeong. North Korea fired artillery shells and rockets to the island, killing four and injuring 19.
The South Korean military has defined North Korea as an “enemy” in white papers when military tensions escalate following North Korea’s provocations. For this year, it may tone down the statement of “enemy” to “military threat,” as used previously in the 2004 white paper, according to the official.
The official said that such hostile rhetoric against North Korea conflicts with current efforts for peace since the beginning of the year and pledges made by the North-South summit in April.
Such move follows the announcement by the ministry that the North and South will reduce personnel and equipment from guard posts in the Demilitarized Zone on the border with the North on a trial basis.