South adopts new concept of pre-emptive strikes
By Jun Ji-hye
The South Korean military has developed a new operational concept to annihilate Pyongyang with a barrage of pre-emptive missile firings once signs of a North Korean nuclear attack are detected, defense sources said Sunday.
A source said the plan, dubbed, Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR), is intended to launch pre-emptive attacks on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as well as the regime's military leadership if signs of their impending use of nuclear weapons are detected or in the event of a war.
Under the KMPR, the military would divide Pyongyang into several districts and completely destroy a certain section in which Kim and other military leadership are suspected to be hiding, before they use a nuclear weapon, the source noted.
"In other words, the North's capital city will be reduced to ashes and removed from the map," the source told reporters on condition of anonymity.
The disclosure of the detailed operation came after the isolated state conducted its fifth nuclear test, Friday, claiming to have detonated a nuclear warhead successfully. In the wake of the test, observers say the North is now apparently in the final stages of making a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile.
The Ministry of National Defense reported details about the KMPR to the National Assembly in response to the North's latest nuclear test.
The source said that the South Korean military plans to mobilize its locally developed surface-to-surface ballistic and cruise missiles, the Hyunmoo, for the operational concept.
The Hyunmoo 2A and 2B ballistic missiles have ranges of 300 and 500 kilometers, respectively, while the Hyunmoo 3 cruise missile has a range of 1,000 kilometers.
The military earlier said it plans to increase the number of Hyunmoo 2As, 2Bs and 3s that can simultaneously strike missile bases all across North Korea in a time of war.
The source noted that the military is also planning to complete tests of its newly developed ballistic missile with a range of 800 kilometers by next year for operational deployment.
"The KMPR is the ultimate operation concept the military can have in the absence of its own nuclear weapons," the source noted.
Another source indicated the military has recently launched a special operational unit in charge of destroying the North Korean military leadership and launching retaliatory attacks on them.
Along with the military options, the government plans to adopt diplomatic ones, as well.
"In response to North Korea's repeated provocations, including the nuclear test, that defy the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council's resolutions, the government plans to make diplomatic and military efforts," said Kim Kyou-hyun, the senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security, in a briefing.
In addition, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se plans to attend the U.N. General Assembly, scheduled to begin Sept. 17, and urge cooperation in formulating a new set of international sanctions against the North.
He will also meet with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts to discuss how to impose stronger sanctions on Pyongyang, according to the foreign ministry.
US aircraft carrier to visit South
As part of allies' efforts, the United States plans to dispatch a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to South Korea next month in a show of force to deter further military provocations by the North.
The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) will sail to the West and South Seas to participate in a joint naval exercise with the South Korean military. The drill is slated for Oct. 10 to 15, officials said, adding that the exercise will focus on training the allies' naval forces on joint precision attacks on the North's key military facilities and the regime's leadership that would be launched in the event of a war with the reclusive state.
Commissioned in 2003, the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has more than 80 combat aircraft, including the F/A-18, EA-6B electronic warfare aircraft and E-2C airborne early warning planes. It can carry about 5,000 sailors.
Washington is expected to dispatch more of its strategic military assets, such as the B-2 stealth nuclear bomber, to Seoul in a show of military might against Pyongyang.
For their part, top nuclear envoys from South Korea and China agreed to communicate and work together to halts the North's nuclear ambitions, according to the foreign ministry here, Saturday.
Kim Hong-kyun, Seoul's special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs at the ministry, spoke with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei on the phone and discussed countermeasures in response to the North's nuclear test.
"Both agreed to keep open the lines of communication and cooperate with each other with regard to the North's nuclear issue, including future countermeasures," the ministry said in a press release.
During the talks, Wu mentioned that China has made it clear that Beijing strongly objected to the North's nuclear test, noting that China will never recognize the North as a nuclear state, nor will it condone the country having nuclear weapons, according to the ministry.