This April 18, 2012 satellite image provided by GeoEye appears to show a train of mining carts, at the lower center of the frame, and other preparations underway at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, but no indication of when a detonation might take place, according to analysis by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. (AP-Yonhap News)
The South Korean and U.S. militaries will develop operational scenarios for possible nuclear attacks by North Korea as part of their efforts to improve the ability to respond to weapons of mass destruction, the Ministry of National Defense said Friday.
The scenarios will be discussed at a bilateral table-top exercise later this year aimed at political and military preparations for the North’s nuclear attacks.
The two sides also agreed to cooperate in conducting research and to hold seminars for high-level decision makers in relation to the issue at the first Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue meeting that was concluded on Friday in Washington. The establishment of the Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue, or KIDD, was agreed to last year as a high-level communications channel for overseeing the Security Policy Initiative, or SPI, and Strategic Alliance 2015 Working Group, or SA2015WG. The KIDD also encompasses the Extended Deterrence Policy Committee, or EDPC
At the talks Seoul’s deputy defense minister for policy Lim Kwan-bin and the U.S.’ Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense nominee James Miller also agreed to periodically compile reports on asymmetrical threats such biological weapons, and to increase cooperation in cyber- and space-related issues.
As part of related measures, the two countries would strengthen the functions and roles played by Korea-U.S. cyber communications channel, and push for sign an agreement concerning space defense issues within the year. In addition, South Korean military officers will receive training in space-related programs in the U.S. from next year.
Regarding the possibility of North Korea conducting a third nuclear test, Lim said that the two allies were in agreement that such developments were likely.
“There is a high possibility that North Korea will conduct a nuclear test. There are two precedents of nuclear tests being conducted in connection to missile tests,” Lim said. He added that although Seoul and Washington are not in possession of concrete evidence that a nuclear test is imminent, a nuclear test is considered likely to be used as a means to shore up Kim Jung-un’s regime after the failed long-range rocket launch on April 13.
“There was no talk about the specifics of the timing of the test. Signs of nuclear tests are monitored on a long-term basis, and (Pyongyang) has shown the possibilities. The timing can’t be predicted specifically, but it is deemed that it can be carried out at any time.”
Concerning the threat of “special military actions” against the South Korea’s presidential office and media organizations, Lim said that although nothing has been confirmed Seoul and Washington were in agreement that provocations were highly likely.
On April 23, North Korea’s state media Korean Central News Agency reported that a “revolutionary military special action” will take place soon, and that the actions will annihilate the targets in “three to four minutes” or less.
The targets mentioned by the KCNA include President Lee Myung-bak and a number of local news outlets including the broadcasters KBS, YTN and the daily Donga Ilbo.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com)