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BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific - Political October 05, 2004

South Korean MP reports US military attack capability

SOURCE: Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 1046 gmt 5 Oct 04

Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

Seoul, 5 October: The US military is capable of surgically striking more than 900 crucial targets in North Korea, including its main nuclear complex, a South Korean lawmaker said Tuesday 5 October . The US capability is key to an operation plan by Washington, code-named OPLAN 5026, which specifies such an air strike on North Korea in the event of a war on the peninsula, said Park Jin of the main opposition Grand National Party.

"An argument that the United States can achieve its goal of neutralizing the North's nuclear programme with surgical strikes using state-of-the-art weapons at the expense of few US troops, is gaining strength within the Pentagon," Park said during a parliamentary audit of the Defence Ministry. The lawmaker based his claim on an article posted on www.globalsecurity.org, an Internet-based world security institute.

According to the article, more than 50 US F-15Es, B-1Bs, B-52Hs and F-117s were temporarily deployed to US air bases in South Korea and Guam in 2003 for exercises. The report said the US planes are capable of delivering about 750 precision guided munitions, specifically the Joint Direct Attack Munitions, on 612-756 aim points in North Korea, the report said.

The inclusion of US war planes in South Korea and missiles being launched by cruisers, destroyers and submarines will enable the US forces to strike 800-944 aim points, it said. The targets include North Korea's main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, weapons of mass destruction facilities, surface-to-air missile batteries, air defence radars and command and control locations, the article said.

"One scenario for dealing with North Korea's nuclear programme would consist of surgical strikes against facilities believed to be involved with the production, storage, or deployment of nuclear weapons," the article said. OPLAN 5026 was to compensate for a 1974 plan called OPLAN 5027 that called for the reinforcement of 690,000 US troops in case of a war breaking out on the peninsula.

The South Korean Defence Ministry, meanwhile, said the OPLAN 5026 is just one military option which is defence-oriented. "Our position is that we will not allow for pre-emptive US attacks on North Korea without the prior consent of South Korea under any circumstance," Defence Minister Yoon Kwang-ung said during the audit session. About 34,000 US troops are stationed in South Korea to augment 690,000 South Korean soldiers. North Korea has a 1.1-million-member army, the world's fifth largest.

Copyright 2004, British Broadcasting Corporation