Published: Tue, October 02, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Two Koreas begin removing landmines inside DMZ

Two Koreas begin removing landmines inside DMZ

The two Koreas are technically still at war because although an armistice was signed in 1953, no peace treaty has ever been agreed.

More than 800,000 mines are believed to have been planted along the entire border during and after the 1950-53 war to defend against infiltration.

He may have unintentionally revealed the information while his own ministry said the comments did not mean that South Korea would accept North Korea as a nuclear state.

Since fighting during the 1950-1953 Korean War ended in a stalemate, at least nine soldiers have been killed in incidents with North Korean troops, including the killing in 1976 of two USA soldiers by axe-wielding North Koreans, the UNC says.

A spokesman said the operation had begun on both sides, though this was not confirmed by the North.

North Korea is estimated to have up to 60 nuclear weapons, a South Korean official said on Tuesday, the first public announcement about the hermit kingdom's secret arsenal.

But it would be the two countries' first joint demining work in more than a decade and comes amid worldwide diplomacy aimed at ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons.

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However, three senior United States officials involved in North Korea policy previously told Reuters that no progress has been made in moving toward serious negotiations on eliminating or even halting Kim's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. A 2015 DMZ mine explosion blamed on North Korea that maimed two South Korean soldiers pushed the rivals to the brink of an armed conflict.

In the "Arrow Head Hill", where some of the fiercest battles during the Korean War happened, Seoul officials believe there are remains of about 300 South Korean and United Nations forces along with an unspecified number of Chinese and North Korean remains.

The agreement to clear mines, the first such effort since the early 2000s, was among a package of tension-easing deals struck by the Koreas' defense chiefs on the sidelines of a leaders' summit last month in Pyongyang.

The troops will try to remove mines on the southern parts of the two sites while North Korea is required to do the same on their northern sides.

Military officials have predicted that once the disarming measure is implemented, the JSA will look similar to what it had been like before the 1976 axe murder incident, when rank-and-file guard posts were banned from carrying heavy firearms - even pistols.

South Korean troops have gradually taken over most operations along their side of the border but worldwide forces under the USA -led United Nations Command retain major roles, especially at the JSA, where an American commander and a South Korean deputy lead the security battalion. Kim Jong Un has subsequently held a series of summits with U.S., South Korean and Chinese leaders and taken some steps such as dismantling his nuclear test site.

Nuclear diplomacy later came to a standstill amid disputes over how genuine North Korea is about its disarmament pledge.

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