US seeks to set up 'safety zones' in South Korea
Iran Press TV
Mon Jun 16, 2014 10:19AM GMT
The United States plans to install "safety zones" around its military installations in South Korea in order to improve the security for nearby residents.
The US joint plan with South Korea comes days after American lawmakers introduced the idea during a Joint SOFA (US–South Korea Status of Forces Agreement) Committee meeting in Seoul on US military operations, the Stars and Stripes reported on Monday.
Public concern about safety issues has increased in South Korea following a deadly ferry sinking in April that killed hundreds of teenagers.
According to a statement issued by US Forces Korea (USFK), the zones are of "utmost importance."
"The unrestricted growth of civilian businesses and residential dwellings in close proximity to some of our military installations could potentially pose considerable safety concerns," the statement said.
"All US and (South Korean) military units comply with multiple layers of safety procedures and protocols," it added.
Officials say the proposed safety zones would be created by leaving empty spaces around US military bases in order to provide better protection for nearby residents from any possible accidents inside the bases such as ammunition dumps.
A South Korean official has recently said that the issue of safety has become vital.
'We explained to the US side that the issue of safety has recently become very important to us, and we agreed to actively hold talks (on the issue) through various discussion channels in the future,' the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
According to USFK, an important safety protocol for storage sites would be a "safety arc" that sets boundaries around important infrastructure.
Neither USFK nor South Korea has elaborated on the location of the possible safety zones or how wide they would be or when they might be installed.
Currently about 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea who all are under the supervision of SOFA.
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