January 17 2004: North Korea accused South Korea of illegally deploying unspecified "artillery pieces" inside the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas. A South Korean defense ministry spokesman immediately rejected the accusation as a "lie". Under a ceasefire accord, only rifles and other small arms are allowed inside the four kilometer-wide DMZ.
Meanwhile, the United States will move all of its troops out of metropolitan Seoul over the next three years without reducing the total number of forces in South Korea. Both countries have agreed that about 7,000 US forces (and their families) will be moved to an expanded facility about 70 kilometers south of Seoul. The United States has agreed to spend $11 billion over the next several years, to improve US readiness on the peninsula.
The US military presence in South Korea's capital was a deterrent against any North Korea assaults, but residents of Seoul have complained that the base occupies prime real estate and worsens the city's traffic jams. Units will not begin moving out until the end of 2005, but the transfer should be completed by the end of 2006. - Adam Geibel
Two Netherlands government ministers acknowledged that highly sensitive nuclear centrifuge technology developed by a company in their country may have been transferred to Libya and North Korea. Pakistan and Iran already had the technology for enriching uranium, a crucial step in making nuclear weapons. It was not clear how the potentially arms-related technology (described as being "from the 1970s") had been transferred. - Adam Geibel