Korea: January 19, 2003


South Korean president-elect Roh Moo-Hyun says that late last year there were discussions between his transition team and American officials about an attack on North Koreas nuclear weapons facilities. This has been rumored, and was apparently also considered before the 1994 deal was made. Such an attack would have involved using smart bombs on key industrial targets known to be used for developing nuclear weapons. In the current case, president-elect Roh (pronounced "No") said South Korea would not support such attacks. South Korea feared that such an attack might prompt the North Korean leadership to attack the south. The north wouldn't have to invade, but could simply fire the thousands of artillery rockets and long range guns that are already aimed at Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Such a barrage, which American and South Korean air power and artillery could do little to stop, would heavily damaged a city that is home to a quarter of South Korea's population. In this way, North Korea has held South Korea hostage for decades. The north has placed many of its guns and rocket launchers in tunnels dug deep into hills and mountains. It would be possible to bomb shut the entrances to many of these tunnels, but North Korean anti-aircraft defenses are most dense where these tunnels are just north of the DMZ. The North Koreans are aware of this, and this is the sort of thing they are talking about when they insist America is going to attack them. If North Korea made such an attack anyway, South Korea and the US would be faced with the problem of attacking across the heavily fortified DMZ. More likely, the offensive operations would be launched by US and South Korean Marines against targets up the coast, and with airmobile forces landing away from the DMZ, where most of the North Korean army is stationed. There would be a massive air battle to destroy North Korean air defenses. The north has an air force of antiquated aircraft that remain dangerous as long as they can still fly.



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