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The international community, including New Zealand, maintain a continuous presence on and around the Korean Peninsula in the interests of regional security. Forces operate both at the border and in the sky. The New Zealand Defence Force has a role in both locations.

New Zealand has a long supported the maintenance of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula as part of international efforts to address regional security issues. 

On the Peninsula, our personnel are posted to the Demilitarised Zone between North Korea and South Korea. The Zone was created in 1953 during the armistice negotiations following the Korean War. It is 260 km long, dotted with landmines, fences, guard posts and other military equipment on both sides of the border. Only a small group of patrolling soldiers are allowed to walk along the world’s most heavily fortified border. Our people are part of a United Nations team whose mission is to enforce the Armistice Agreement and enable security and stability on the Korean Peninsula. 

A curious duty is the relaying of official messages across the border, which is done by personnel speaking them aloud at the border, with a Korean translating them. It is done very formally, with set procedures. Although there are landlines between the personnel staffing the borders, the North Koreans do not answer them.

Because of North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programme, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has imposed sanctions against the country. New Zealand also contributes to the international community's efforts to achieve the full implementation of UNSC resolutions, and support the goal of the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea.

To help monitor the sanctions and support international efforts, the Royal New Zealand Air Force have conducted multiple deployments of a P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft based out of Japan. Our aircraft operates over international waters, to detect and deter illicit ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned cargo and other practices that contravene the UNSC sanctions.

During 2021, we carried out these patrols for the fourth time, locating vessels of interest and looking to detect any evasions of sanctions such as illicit ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned goods such as oil and coal. Activities of interest spotted by the aircrew are recorded and passed on to the relevant authorities.

Fire Support Group withdraw with their equipment during the exercise.

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