U.S. Brass: North Korea Capable of Rapidly Attacking South

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Global Security Newswire Staff
April 3, 2014, 6:34 a.m.

The head of U.S. forces on the Korean Pen­in­sula on Wed­nes­day warned that North Korea has the abil­ity to con­duct an as­sault on the South at a mo­ment’s no­tice.

In testi­mony to the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, Army Gen. Curtis Scapar­rotti said,”The Kim Jong Un re­gime is dan­ger­ous and has the cap­ab­il­ity … to at­tack South Korea with little or no warn­ing,” Stars and Stripes re­por­ted.

In re­cent days Kim threatened to use the North Korean mil­it­ary to “crush” what he per­ceived as a hos­tile U.S. policy to­ward his coun­try. That threat comes on the heels of a Monday live-fire mari­time ex­er­cise car­ried out by the North that sent some shells across a dis­puted sea line with the South. And on Sunday, Py­ongy­ang warned it was pre­pared to carry out a “new” type of nuc­le­ar test and would stage fur­ther mil­it­ary drills aimed at im­prov­ing the abil­ity to strike longer-range tar­gets.

“This is a com­mon strategy with North Korea to come out of a peri­od of calm and to use these types of ac­tions” to send a mes­sage about Py­ongy­ang’s “dis­pleas­ure” with U.S. mil­it­ary ex­er­cises in the re­gion, Scapar­rotti said.

Mean­while, South Korea, the United States and Ja­pan are slated to con­vene tri­lat­er­al talks next week in Wash­ing­ton that will fo­cus on pro­spects for re­in­vig­or­at­ing a frozen mul­tina­tion­al pro­cess aimed at achiev­ing ir­re­vers­ible North Korean de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion. Ahead of that meet­ing, Seoul an­nounced it had ap­poin­ted a new seni­or ne­go­ti­at­or to the nuc­le­ar talks — dip­lo­mat Hwang Joon-kook, the Yon­hap News Agency re­por­ted.

Else­where, a new ana­lys­is pub­lished on Thursday by the ex­pert web­site 38 North con­cluded there is a “high” prob­ab­il­ity of an atom­ic ac­ci­dent oc­cur­ring at the ex­per­i­ment­al light-wa­ter re­act­or re­cently con­struc­ted at North Korea’s Yongby­on nuc­le­ar com­plex.

Ex­perts Niko Mi­lono­poulous and Ed­ward Bland­ford found a num­ber of reas­ons stem­ming from North Korea’s in­ter­na­tion­al isol­a­tion and poverty that could con­trib­ute to a nuc­le­ar melt­down at the re­act­or, in­clud­ing po­ten­tially flawed re­act­or safety blue­prints and pos­sibly shoddy con­struc­tion work. A spring 2013 im­age ana­lys­is by 38 North con­cluded that ex­tern­al work on the re­act­or ap­peared to be done but that it was not clear if activ­it­ies were go­ing on to op­er­a­tion­al­ize the fa­cil­ity.

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