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Foreign Policy Analysis
S. Korea to send troops to Hormuz Strait independently to safeguard people, vessels

S. Korea to send troops to Hormuz Strait independently to safeguard people, vessels

South Korea decided to dispatch troops to
the Strait of Hormuz. The forces, however, will not join a U.S.-led
coalition. South Korea will dispatch troops to the Strait
of Hormuz by expanding operational areas of its anti-piracy unit deployed nearby to help
protect its vessels passing through the strategic waterway, the defense ministry announced Tuesday. “In consideration of the current situation
in the Middle East, the government has decided to temporarily expand the Cheonghae Unit’s
sphere of activity in order to guarantee safety of our people and the freedom of navigation
of vessels,” the ministry said in a release. The government’s decision is believed to be
aimed at protecting South Korea’s national interests. First, as the world’s most important oil passageway,
the strait is the route to the open ocean for 70 percent of South Korea’s oil imports. Second, the U.S., its biggest ally, has been
requesting South Korea and other allies to send troops to the U.S.-led International
Maritime Security Construct (IMSC). However, as tensions between the U.S. and
Iran escalated after the U.S.’ assassination of top Iranian general, the South Korean government
seems to have decided to have its forces conduct independent operations. The 300-strong Cheonghae Unit, which has been
on an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia, will broaden its mission areas
into the Gulf of Oman, and further to the Persian Gulf, starting Tuesday. The 31st batch of the rotational troops along
with the 4,400-ton destroyer, the Wang Geon, is to assume the role in the day, according
to the ministry. While the Cheonghae Unit will act on its own,
South Korea will also send two liaison officers affiliated with the Cheonghae Unit to the
IMSC “for cooperation such as information sharing,” the ministry said. The IMSC is headquartered in Bahrain. “Since May last year, when tensions began
to heighten in the Middle East, we’ve been reviewing diverse options,” a senior defense
ministry official said, adding that the government prioritizes the safety of South Korean people
and vessels. “We had consultations with the U.S. regarding
the matter, and explained fully our stance and reasons for the decision to Iran,” he
added. A recent poll showed more opposition to the
dispatch of troops, however, drawing attention to future public opinion trends over Seoul’s
decision today. Roh Moo-hyun government, a predecessor of
the current government, also had decided to dispatch troops to Iraq considering national
interests, despite public opposition regarding the dispatch. This was Hyunmin Ryu from North Korea Now.

2 comments on “S. Korea to send troops to Hormuz Strait independently to safeguard people, vessels

  1. Killing the Ayatollah and Kim Jong Un is a vital part of international security. Or, capture and prosecute them both in the Haig, than executed.

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