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US-ROK Troop Agreement Will Spark Arms Race
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The North Korea on Tuesday said the new "strategic flexibility" agreement on the more convenient deployment of US troops in South Korea to other Asia-Pacific areas will further strain the situation in the region and provoke a fresh, fierce arms race.

"What should not be overlooked is that the agreement is aimed at mounting a preemptive attack on North Korea without difficulty," a spokesman for North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding, "the agreement has further strained the situation in and around the Korean Peninsula and sparked a fresh, fierce arms race."

North Korea said the agreement left it no other choice but to "steadily bolster up its military deterrent to cope with the tense situation prevailing in and around the peninsula."

There is no remark about the use of nuclear weapons or its nuclear program in the statement.

The agreement on US troops deployed in South Korea came at a Washington meeting in January between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon.

According to the communique issued on Jan. 19, South Korea expressed its respect for the necessity for "strategic flexibility" of US troops stationed in South Korea.

At the same time, the US side promised to respect Seoul's position that it shall not be involved in regional conflicts in Northeast Asia against the will of the South Korean people.

"The agreement on the strategic flexibility of the US forces in South Korea has paved the way for turning South Korea into an outpost and a logistical base serving the US in realizing its Asia strategy," the North Korean statement said.

"This is no more than sheer sophism intended to deceive the people," the statement said, adding, "The agreement diametrically runs counter to the UN Charter which stipulates that all UN member nations shall refrain from threatening other countries by force."

The US currently has 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea, but it plans to reduce its troops to 25,000 by 2008 under its global strategy plan.

(Xinhua News Agency February 22, 2006)

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