by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Feb 25, 2016
South Korea has completed a major naval base on the southern resort island of Jeju, the navy said Thursday, a project that sparked fierce protests by residents and activists.
The $806 million base, completed after six years of construction, will provide the navy with a deep sea port in the south.
South Korea is surrounded by sea on three sides -- the west, east and south -- and the base will grant its navy quick access to the eastern and southern parts of the East China Sea for the protection of the country's trade routes, naval authorities said.
It will also serve as home for quick strike forces that can be dispatched against enemies who could bypass frontline navy forces deployed in the western and eastern sea to invade the country.
With its pier and breakwater measuring 2.4 kilometres (1.5 miles) and 2.5 km in length, the base can simultaneously dock 20 combat vessels and two cruise ships of the largest class.
It will double as a cruise ship port when a separate civilian pier is completed next year.
The navy plans to host an opening ceremony on Friday, with a naval parade by the country's most sophisticated warships.
The government first launched the Jeju base construction project in 1993 as part of efforts to consolidate South Korea's maritime sovereignty.
Ground was broken six years ago, but the construction work was once put on hold in the face of intense protests by residents, environmentalist and pacifists.
More than 600 protestors have been arrested. Many of them were indicted and fined.
US presents 'tougher, more comprehensive' UN sanctions on NKorea: Power
"It is a major upgrade" from past sanctions resolutions, Samantha Power told reporters ahead of a Security Council meeting to discuss the new package of measures.
"There will be, provided it goes forward, pressure on more points -- tougher, more comprehensive -- more sectors. It's breaking new ground in a whole host of ways," she said.
The draft text was presented to the 15-member council after the United States and China, Pyongyang's sole ally, agreed on the package of measures, capping six weeks of tough negotiations.
The UN Security Council decided to impose new measures on North Korea after it carried out its fourth nuclear test on January 6 and test-fired a rocket on February 7.
Both tests were in violation of a series of resolutions barring North Korea from developing nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The United States and China have been at odds over how to respond to the latest tests.
Beijing fears too much pressure on Pyongyang could trigger the collapse of the pariah regime, unleashing chaos on its border.
The United States had argued that a tough international response was needed to the nuclear test that North Korea defiantly followed by the rocket launch a month later.
After the Washington and Beijing agreed on the draft resolution, French Ambassador Francois Delattre said "the conditions are now met" for a "strong and consensual" response from the Security Council.
"We believe we'll have soon a resolution establishing unprecedented sanctions," Delattre said.
Venezuela's Ambassador Rafael Ramirez, who holds the council presidency, said he expected a vote on the draft resolution at the weekend.
The council has imposed four sets of sanctions on North Korea since it first tested an atomic device in 2006.
There are 20 North Korean entities and 12 individuals on the UN sanctions blacklist, which provides for an assets freeze and a global travel ban.
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