South Korea to move some troops from DMZ border

South Korea to move some troops from DMZ border

Satellite images show key facilities, including the rocket engine test stand, being razed at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station (Photo: 38 North and Airbus Defense and Space)

WASHINGTON — South Korea’s military said it would begin to reduce guard posts and equipment along the demilitarized zone separating North and South Koreas, in a further step to build on goodwill gestures between the once bitter enemies.

According to media reports on Tuesday from South Korea, the defense ministry outlined plans to a parliamentary committee for “a test reduction of some guard post troops and equipment” along the DMZ. If that succeeded, military officials said they would consider further reductions, the Yonhap news agency reported.

Pentagon officials confirmed the reports on Wednesday but could provide no independent details.

At their summit in April, the leaders of North and South Korea promised to reduce tensions in the DMZ and turn it into a “peace zone,” according to news reports at the time.

South Korea’s decision on Tuesday came one day after the think tank 38 North said new satellite images show North Korea had begun dismantling key facilities at its site the was central to developing engines for ballistic missiles.

The satellite images of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station were taken on Friday. They show work on an assembly plant for space-launch vehicles and facilities to test liquid fuel engines, the think tank said.

“Since these facilities are believed to have played an important role in the development of technologies for the North’s intercontinental ballistic missile program, these efforts represent a significant confidence-building measure on the part of North Korea,” the think tank said in a report on Monday.

“Given the state of activity, work is likely to have begun sometime within the past two weeks,” the report said.

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