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Invasion is ‘only way’ to destroy Kim Jong-un’s military threat, Pentagon official says

North Korea: Invasion is ‘only way’ to destroy Kim Jong-un’s military threat, Pentagon official says  A ground invasion of North Korea is “the only way” to locate and destroy with complete certainty Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons program, the Pentagon Joint Chiefs of Staff have said.

Key points:

  • US officials requested a detailed assessment of the consequences of a North Korean war
  • The assessment says an invasion is the only way to disarm North Korea with certainty
  • The statement says millions could die in days and that chemical weapons may be used
  • The Joint Chief of Staffs directly advise the US President on military matters

In a letter to the Pentagon, two House Democrats had asked about casualty assessments in a possible conflict with North Korea, and Rear Admiral Michael J Dumont of the Joint Staff responded on behalf of the Defence Department.

“It is our intent to have a full public accounting of the potential cost of war, so the American people understand the commitment we would be making as a nation if we were to pursue military action,” the representatives’ letter said.

“We have not heard detailed analysis of expected US or allied force casualties, expected civilian casualties, what plans exist for the aftermath of a strike — including continuity of the South Korean Government.”

In his response, Mr Dumont noted that the United States’ military and intelligence agencies are evaluating North Korea’s ability to target heavily populated areas of South Korea with long-range artillery, rockets and ballistic missiles.

“A classified briefing would be the best place to discuss in detail the capability of the US and its allies,” Mr Dumont’s letter said.

“[And] to discuss capabilities to counter North Korea’s ability to respond with a nuclear weapon and eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons located in deeply buried, underground facilities.”

In his response, Mr Dumont highlighted that Seoul, the South Korean capital with a population of 25 million, was just 55 kilometres from the demilitarised zone(DMZ) that separates the two Koreas.   The amount of casualties would differ depending on the advance warning and the ability of US and South Korea forces to counter these attacks.

Mr Dumont also highlighted the possibility that chemical and biological weapons might be used by the North in case of a conflict.

In the US military the Joint Chiefs of Staff directly advise the President on military matters.

Responding in a joint statement, 15 Democratic officials and one Republican — all military veterans — called Mr Dumont’s assessment that a ground invasion would be required to destroy the North’s nuclear arsenal “chilling” and “deeply disturbing”.

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff has now confirmed that the only way to destroy North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is through a ground invasion,” the joint statement said. That is deeply disturbing and could result in hundreds of thousands, or even millions of deaths in just the first few days of fighting.

“Their assessment underscores what we’ve known all along: there are no good military options for North Korea.”

They also noted that the Trump administration “has failed to articulate any plans to prevent the military conflict from expanding beyond the Korean Peninsula and to manage what happens after the conflict is over”.

“With that in mind, the thought of sending troops into harm’s way and expending resources on another potentially unwinnable war is chilling,” they said.

“The President needs to stop making provocative statements that hinder diplomatic options and put American troops further at risk.”

Speaking to CNN overnight, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the assessment “bleak”, but added that she was pleased that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was accompanying President Donald Trump during his trip to Asia, where North Korea is the main issue on the agenda.

“I think if he will stay the course and use diplomacy the way diplomacy can be used, then it might be possible to work something out,” Ms Feinstein said.

“The worst alternative is a war which could become nuclear.”

November 6, 2017 - Posted by | North Korea, USA, weapons and war

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