U.S., S. Korea revise ammunition disposal pact
September 10, 2003
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The United States and South Korea have agreed on “win-win” revisions to an ammunition disposal agreement first signed in 1999, officials said Monday.
Chief negotiators for both sides said the revisions settle several lingering issues from the original agreement and are highlighted by plans to jointly fund and build a new $42 million disposal facility.
“It will be a combined facility that allows us to deal with the issue of unserviceable ammunition that is a problem for both countries,” said Army Col. Todd Smith, head of the U.S. Forces Korea munitions division.
“This saves both of us a lot of time and money and effort. And also, we saw it as a way to enhance the alliance” because “we’re both getting something out of it for the common good.”
Under the new pact, which revises the so-called War Reserved Stock for Allies system, old ways to dispose of outdated or obsolete munitions — by burning or detonation — will be replaced by new methods of recycling some components and safe disposal of the rest.
South Korean lawmakers criticized the 1999 agreement. At issue:
n A provision that gave the United States the right — although it has never been exercised — to ship ammunition from other U.S. bases outside the United States to South Korea for disposal.
n A caveat that forced the South Korean military to pay U.S. forces to dispose of its ammunition.
The new agreement voids both of those aspects from the old pact.
American and South Korean defense officials signed the new agreement late last week, after several months of meetings.
Lt. Col. Chang Hyo-kyong, the issue’s lead South Korean Defense Ministry official, said the new pact contains both financial and environmental benefits. The new facility will save up to $120 million by eliminating costs associated with storing and managing ordnance to be destroyed.
No obsolete ammunition has been incinerated for almost two years, Chang said.
Once the new facility is completed in 2006, Chang said, it will be able to process about 10,000 tons of outdated ammunition each year. The $42 million cost will be split between the United States and South Korea, officials said .
Smith, of USFK, said some 115,000 tons of American ammunition is ready to be “demilitarized.”
The site for the new facility has not been determined, but Cha said several South Korean military installations have been identified as possibilities.
The facility will contain “deactivation furnaces” able to process anything from small arms rounds to 155 mm cannon rounds, Smith said.