Published: Tue, October 02, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Koreas begin clearing landmines from heavily fortified border

Koreas begin clearing landmines from heavily fortified border

The North's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho also told the United Nations last month that there was "no way" his country would disarm first as long as the USA pushes for tough enforcement of sanctions against Pyongyang.

The militaries launched the removal work in the Joint Security Area (JSA) in the DMZ, which they have agreed to disarm, and part of Cheorwon, Gangwon Province, where they plan to carry out a joint project to excavate Korean War remains next year. In 2019, the troops are to search for the remains of hundreds of soldiers who died in the Korean War.

South Korea earlier Monday sent troops to remove its mines from the sites at the Demilitarized Zone under recent agreements with North Korea aimed at reducing their decades-long military animosity.

Cho's ministry said Tuesday that his comments didn't mean that South Korea would accept North Korea as a nuclear state, adding that diplomatic efforts to rid the North of its nuclear program would continue. 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.

According to South Korean government reports, North Korea is believed to have produced 110 pounds of weaponized plutonium, enough for at least eight bombs.

In April, South Korea said it had stopped broadcasting propaganda via loudspeakers along the border to "ease the military tension between the two Koreas".

There was no immediate confirmation from North Korea that its troops had begun the process.

"The DPRK is taking substantial and crucial steps to implement the joint statement made at the DPRK-US summit, but the US is still trying to subdue someone by resorting to sanctions", the unnamed commentary accused.

Moon has advocated dialogue with the isolated North to nudge it toward denuclearisation. He also said the north is committed to helping maintain "long lasting peace and prosperity" on the peninsula.

Testing done in Hawaii confirmed they belong to South Korean war dead.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told parliament Monday the estimates on the size of North Korea's nuclear arsenal range from 20 bombs to as many as 60.

After provocative tests of three intercontinental ballistic missiles and a powerful nuclear weapon last year, North Korea entered talks with the United States and South Korea earlier this year, saying it's willing to deal away its expanding nuclear arsenal.

But it claimed the USA is "trying to subdue" it through sanctions - an unsubtle call for Washington to lift sanctions if it wants any progress in their stalled nuclear negotiations.

Meanwhile, on Monday, South Korea held a ceremony marking the recent return of the remains of 64 South Korean soldiers missing from the Korean War.

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