Defense Ministry to Consider Preemptive Strike on North Korea’s WMDs
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Defense Ministry to Consider Preemptive Strike on North Korea’s WMDs
Seeks to advance establishment of ROK-U.S. strategies to deter WMD threats

30(Tue), Apr, 2013

Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin (right) gives a policy briefing to 
President Park Geun-hye (center) at Cheong Wa Dae on April 1. 
[ Photo on courtesy of MCST ]

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has come up with a plan to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), including nuclear weapons and missiles amid the North’s heightened war threats against South Korea and the United States. 

In its policy briefing to President Park Geun-hye on April 1, the ministry said it is seeking to reach an agreement on the advancement of establishing ROK-U.S. three-stage strategies to deter North Korea’s WMDs at the ROK-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) slated for October. 

Earlier, both sides agreed to complete the deterrent strategies against the North’s WMDs by 2014, but as North Korea has ratcheted up its threats by carrying out its recent third nuclear test, the ministry decided to advance timetable for the establishment of the strategies.

According to the ministry and military authorities, the forthcoming plan calls for the division of the situation involving North Korea’s nuclear attacks in three stages: threatening the use of nuclear arms, impending use of nuclear arms, and firing them, and specifying the details of each stage’s response strategies. The ministry plans to draft the plan by July and experimenting it at the upcoming Ulchi Freedom-Guardian, one of the largest Joint Staff directed theater exercises in the world involving the ROK and the United States, before finalizing a deal on the strategies during the upcoming SCM. 

At the stage of North Korea threatening an attack with nuclear arms, diplomatic channels of China and Korea’s neighboring countries will be mobilized to put pressure on North Korea. In the case of impending use of nuclear arms, an option of launching a preemptive strike with ballistic missiles with a range of 500 km to 800 km and cruise missiles with a range of 1,000 km or more will be discussed. In the case of firing missiles carrying nuclear warheads, there is no option but to intercept them in the air. 

Upgrading surveillance and reconnaissance systems in qualitative and quantitative terms is required for building a kill chain and a Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system. To this end, the ministry reported a plan to hurry up the introduction of the Global Hawk high-flying unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and securing military surveillance satellites in the mid- and long-term perspective. 

The ministry plans to reinforce a department in charge of cyber policy designed to counter North Korea’s imminent cyber terrorist attack threats and develop its own response scenarios to cope with North Korea’s cyber attacks. 

The ministry reiterated its previous position on Washington’s transfer of wartime operational command to Seoul and the dissolution of the Combined Forces Command, which is still not agreed in the Park Geun-hye government. It plans to push for a plan to take over wartime operational command from the United States by December 2015 and build a new united defense regime. But the ministry took a cautious attitude toward the issue of transferring of wartime operational command by saying that the preparations for taking over wartime operational command need to be certified in consideration of the current security situation facing the Korean Peninsula. 

The MOD said it will complete the selection of the next-generation Korean Air fighter in the first half of this year and the construction of a naval base in Jeju will be finished by 2015. 

The ministry did not report a plan to restructure the military command system, one of the previous government’s key military reform plans, which still hangs in the balance. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs reported to President Park a plan to secure 50,000 jobs for soldiers discharged after serving mid- and long-term military services of over the 10 years.

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