Mark Dunn / Times Online & James Bone & Richard Lloyd Parry / The Times – 2006-10-16 07:59:07
US Fears ‘Hell’ of a Response
Mark Dunn / Times Online
LONDON (October 12, 2006) — PLANS previously drafted by the Pentagon predict 52,000 US military casualties and one million civilian dead in the first 90 days of conflict if America attacked Pyongyang.
The US leadership is looking at international economic and diplomatic sanctions against North Korea as its primary response to Monday’s nuclear test.
But military contingencies are considered as a matter of course and analysts paint a horrific picture for even the most targeted of US strikes.
A report this week by US-based security and military analyst Stratfor predicts North Korea could return fire on Seoul with “several hundred thousand high-explosive rounds per hour” — with up to 25 per cent of shells filled with nerve gas.
Other estimates say the US would need at least 500,000 ground troops to secure against a North invasion of the South.
“When US military planners have nightmares, they have nightmares about war with North Korea,” the Stratfor analysis says.
Despite the risks, Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations expert Michael Levi, along with several Australian analysts, believe a North Korean nuclear test would increase the likelihood of a US military response.
Pentagon strategists continue to work on military contingencies but all scenarios forecast massive casualties and a high likelihood of escalating war.
When confronted with Pentagon drafts in 2004, US President George W. Bush was reported to have been horrified at the human cost. Updated Pentagon plans outlining bombing of North Korean nuclear sites, border artillery and troop emplacements call for:
ROUND-the-clock strikes using Stealth and Lancer aircraft and naval-launch cruise missiles to destroy nuclear and missile capability and set the research program back years.
AIR bombing, possibly including US tactical nuclear weapons, to penetrate metres-thick concrete protecting the North’s nuclear research complex at Yonben.
But Stratfor’s assessment said even if limited strikes were ordered against only nuclear research facilities, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s unpredictability meant a high potential for huge retaliation.
Stratfor argued the US had two advantages — the time it would take Pyongyang to develop a miniaturised nuclear weapon for carriage on a missile; and America’s distance from North Korea.
“The most important issue is the transfer of North Korean nuclear technology to other countries and groups,” Stratfor said.
It concluded by urging US military restraint. “The consequences of even the most restrained attack could be devastating.”
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Neighbours Block ‘Act of War’ Searches after Test
James Bone & Richard Lloyd Parry / The Times
NEW YORK & SEOUL (October 12, 2006) — Russia and China are blocking an American plan to mount international inspections of all cargoes entering and leaving North Korea for fear of provoking a military showdown.
North Korea underlined the concerns by saying yesterday that it would regard such sanctions as an act of war. Pyongyang threatened “physical measures”, including a second nuclear test, unless Washington ceased to confront it.
President Bush said that he had “no intention of attacking” the isolated Stalinist regime and that he would pursue “all diplomatic efforts” in response to North Korea’s first atomic explosion. “Diplomacy hasn’t run its course, and we’ll continue working to give diplomacy a full opportunity to succeed,” he said. But he made it clear that President Kim Jong Il must face “serious repercussions” for sparking the world’s latest nuclear crisis.
The repercussions envisaged by Mr Bush were being contested by Russia and China as they outlined their positions on a new Security Council resolution that could be adopted as early as tomorrow.
Their stance meant that while agreement was close to a resolution imposing limited sanctions on North Korea, they would shy away from any enforcement action.
While Moscow and Beijing are ready to accept legally binding sanctions aimed at Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, they are balking at a US proposal to enforce them with international inspections.
Vitali Churkin, Moscow’s UN Ambassador, has argued that North Korea could use the inspections to provoke a military confrontation.
Russia and China oppose extending the sanctions to luxury goods, as Washington has proposed, or to a total embargo on all North Korean exports, as Japan has suggested. They may go along, however, with plans to prohibit travel by highranking North Korean officials.
Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, urged the US to hold direct bilateral talks with North Korea. “I believe that the US and North Korea should talk,” he said.
North Korea, too, used the threat of further nuclear tests to try to force the US to one-to-one talks. Kim Yong Nam, the president of the Presidium of the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly, said: “The issue of future nuclear tests is linked to US policy toward our country. If the United States continues to take a hostile attitude and apply pressure on us in various forms, we will have no choice but to take physical steps to deal with that.”
In a separate statement, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said that North Korea was prepared to return to six-way talks in Beijing involving the US, China, Russia, Japan and North and South Korea.
“Even though we conducted a nuclear test due to the United States, our willingness to realise the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula through dialogue and negotiation remains unchanged. If the US continues to harass and put pressure on us, we will regard this as a declaration of war.”
The remarks suggest that North Korea regards the possession of nuclear weapons as a negotiating tool.
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