Securing North Korean nuclear websites would require a floor invasion, Pentagon says

The solely solution to find and safe all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons websites “with complete certainty” is thru an invasion of U.S. floor forces, and within the occasion of battle, Pyongyang may use organic and chemical weapons, the Pentagon informed lawmakers in a brand new, blunt evaluation of what struggle on the Korean Peninsula would possibly appear like.

The Pentagon, in a letter to lawmakers, mentioned full dialogue of U.S. capabilities to “counter North Korea’s ability to respond with a nuclear weapon and to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons located in deeply buried, underground facilities” is greatest suited to a labeled briefing.

The letter additionally mentioned that Pentagon leaders “badess that North Korea may consider the use of biological weapons” and that the nation “has a long-standing chemical weapons program with the capability to produce nerve, blister, blood and choking agents.”

The Pentagon repeated detailed dialogue of how the United States would reply to the menace couldn’t be mentioned in public.

The letter was written by Rear Adm. Michael Dumont, the vice director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, in response to a request for data from two House members about “expected casualty badessments in a conflict with North Korea,” together with for civilians and U.S. and allied forces in South Korea, Japan and Guam.

“A decision to attack or invade another country will have ramifications for our troops and taxpayers, as well as the region, for decades,” Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., wrote to the Pentagon. “We have not heard detailed badysis of expected U.S. or allied force casualties, expected civilian casualties, what plans exist for the aftermath of a strike – including continuity of the South Korean Government.”

The Pentagon mentioned that calculating “best- or worst-case casualty scenarios” was difficult and would rely on the “nature, intensity and duration” of a North Korean badault; how a lot warning civilians must get to the hundreds of shelters in South Korea; and the flexibility of U.S. and South Korean forces to answer North Korean artillery, rockets and ballistic missiles with their very own retaliatory barrage and airstrikes.

The letter famous that Seoul, the South Korean capital, is a densely populated space with 25 million residents.

Any operation to pursue North Korean nuclear weapons would doubtless be spearheaded by U.S. Special Operations troops. Last 12 months, President Barack Obama and then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter gave U.S. Special Operations Command a brand new, main position coordinating the Pentagon’s effort to counter weapons of mbad destruction. SOCOM didn’t obtain any new authorized authorities for the mission however gained affect in how the army responds to such threats.

Elite U.S. forces have lengthy skilled to reply within the case of a so-called “loose nuke” within the palms of terrorists. But senior officers mentioned SOCOM is more and more centered on North Korea.

Dumont mentioned the army backs the present U.S. technique on North Korea, which is led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and focuses on ratcheting up financial and diplomatic strain as the first effort to get North Korean chief Kim Jong Un to cease growing nuclear weapons. Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., have emphasised that in journeys to Seoul this 12 months.

In distinction, President Donald Trump, who goes unmentioned within the Pentagon letter, has taunted Kim as “Rocket Man” and expressed frustration with diplomatic efforts, hinting that he’s contemplating preemptive army pressure.

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump tweeted on Oct. 1, including, “Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”

On Oct. 7, Trump added in extra tweets that North Korea had “made fools” of U.S. negotiators. “Sorry, but only one thing will work!” he mentioned.

Mattis and different Pentagon leaders have usually cited the grave menace confronted by Seoul, however the army a lot much less regularly attracts consideration to its plans for an underground hunt for nuclear weapons.

Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, mentioned that Dumont and different Pentagon officers had no extra remark concerning the letter.

A senior U.S. army official in South Korea, talking on the situation of anonymity to debate ongoing operations, mentioned that whereas the 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea keep a excessive diploma of readiness, he “has to believe” that North Korea doesn’t need a struggle, given the entire nations aligned in opposition to it.

“If you open the history books, this is not the first time that we’ve been in a heavy provocation cycle,” the official mentioned. On the facet of South Korea and the United States, he mentioned, “there is no action taken without extreme consideration of not putting this in a position where a fight is going to happen.”

Dumont’s letter additionally notes that “we have not seen any change in the offensive posture of North Korea’s forces.”

An announcement by 16 lawmakers, launched concurrently with the Pentagon letter, urged Trump to cease making “provocative statements” that impede diplomatic efforts and danger the lives of U.S. troops.

The Pentagon’s “badessment underscores what we’ve known all along: There are no good military options for North Korea,” mentioned the badertion, organized by Lieu and Gallego and signed by 14 different members of Congress who’re veterans, all however one in every of them Democrats.

In a phone interview, Lieu mentioned that the intent of asking the Pentagon for data was to spell out the cataclysmic penalties of struggle with North Korea and the aftermath.

“It’s important for people to understand what a war with a nuclear power would look like,” mentioned Lieu, citing estimates of 300,000 lifeless within the first few days alone. More than 100,000 Americans are probably in danger.

Lieu, who spent a part of his time within the Air Force on Guam making ready for army motion in opposition to North Korea, referred to as the letter a affirmation battle would lead to a “bloody, protracted ground war.” The Joint Chiefs, he believes, are “trying to send a message to the American public,” he mentioned.

“This is grim,” Lieu mentioned. “We need to understand what war means. And it hasn’t been articulated very well. I think they’re trying to articulate some of that.”

Gallego mentioned that he needed data due to what he sees as a cavalier angle within the White House about army motion in North Korea. The thought floor invasion could be wanted to safe nuclear weapons is eye-opening, he mentioned, and raises the potential for the U.S. army dropping hundreds of troops.

“I think that you’re dealing with career professionals at the Pentagon who realize that the drumbeats of war could actually end up leading us to war,” he mentioned. “They want to make sure that there is full transparency and information out there about what can occur if our civilian leaders make wrong calculations.”

The Pentagon letter additionally notes the potential for “opposition from China or Russia.”

“The Department of Defense maintains a set of up-to-date contingency plans to secure our vital national security interests,” Dumont wrote. “These plans account for a wide range of possibilities, including third-party intervention, and address how best to ‘contain escalation.’ “

The letter says that each “Russia or China may prefer to avoid conflict with the United States, or possibly cooperate with us.”

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