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(LEAD) S. Korea to step up patrols in new ADIZ

2013/12/09 11:47

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is preparing to increase patrols and surveillance in its newly established air defense identification zone (ADIZ) as part of follow-up measures to cover the area expanded southward, military officials said Monday.

The move follows Seoul's announcement of its new air defense zone on Sunday to counter China's unilateral decision to expand its own to cover a reef and other islands off the southern coast of the Korean Peninsula.

The new Korean air defense identification zone (KADIZ) is designed to have its southern boundary match the country's broader flight information region (FIR), and includes airspace over the Seoul-controlled reef of Ieodo and the other southern islands of Marado and Hongdo.

A South Korean warship patrols near the underwater reef of Ieodo in south of the Korean Peninsula, where a maritime science research station is located. It is included in the air defense identification zone of South Korea, China and Japan. (Yonhap file photo)

As KADIZ is set to take effect beginning Dec. 15, the defense ministry said it plans to increase routine patrols around the region and consult with China and Japan over the implementation of the new rule.

The ministry will also hold a meeting with the presidential office, the Prime Minister's office and the foreign affairs and transport and maritime ministries on Tuesday to jointly draw up follow-up measures and consult with neighboring nations. The meeting is also aimed at strengthening patrols and setting rules for commercial airlines, its spokesman said.

"After related ministries share opinions on the matter, the government will coordinate follow-up measures for the new ADIZ," defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said in a briefing.

Seoul is also seeking to have a trilateral meeting with China and Japan to handle KADIZ, which overlaps with the neighboring nations, including the South Korea-controlled underwater reef of Ieodo, Kim said.

An ADIZ is not a part of a country's territorial airspace and it is designed to identify foreign aircraft in advance to protect the air defense, Kim said, noting that its purpose is for identification and early warning.

"An ADIZ is based on the concept of national security. Although it is not regulated by international laws, each country can proclaim its own ADIZ," Kim said, adding South Korea announced its own zone in line with that practice. "We will further communicate with neighboring nations before the new zone takes effect on Dec. 15."

   As the new rule covers a wider area in southern waters of the Korean Peninsula, the Navy is considering stepping up maritime patrols near the region.

South Korean warships have regularly patrolled near Ieodo two or three times a week, but they have increased surveillance near the area since China's Nov. 23 announcement of its ADIZ that covers the South-controlled Ieodo.

The Air Force is also preparing verification measures for foreign aircraft that enter KADIZ, while placing fighter jets on alert for potential clashes.

Any foreign aircraft passing through the zone will be required to identify themselves 15-30 minutes in advance, maintain communication and file flight plans after the rule takes effect on Dec. 15, according to officials.

While the ADIZ rule is under authority of the defense minister, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman is entrusted with implementing the rule.

As part of efforts to promptly send South Korean fighter jets to the southern region, Seoul plans to acquire four aerial refueling tankers to extend operational capabilities.

Currently, a KF-16 can conduct missions only for 20 minutes above Ieodo, which can be extended up to 80 minutes above the area.

It is the first change in more than six decades to KADIZ, which was drawn in 1951 by the U.S. Air Force during the 1950-53 Korean War.

ejkim@yna.co.kr

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