View Full Version : U.S. Plans N. Korea Nuke Plant Strikes

11-06-2006, 09:13 AM
US plans N Korea nuke plant strikes


Sarah Baxter, Washington
November 06, 2006

THE Pentagon is speeding up plans for possible military strikes on North Korea's nuclear program.

US defence officials said detailed planning had begun for precision strikes on nuclear facilities such as the North Korean plutonium reprocessing plant at Yongbyon. The plant is thought to have supplied the plutonium fuel used in an underground nuclear test carried out by Kim Jong-il's pariah regime on October 9.

A Pentagon official said "various military options" for halting North Korea's nuclear program were under consideration. "Other than nuclear strikes, which are considered excessive, there are several options now in place," the official said. "Planning has been accelerated."

According to defence sources, one option includes strikes on Yongbyon by Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from submarines or ships. Precision-guided bombs and missiles could also be delivered by B-52 or B-2 stealth bombers.

Navy Seals and other commandos would be deployed inside North Korea to help blow up facilities such as Yongbyon. It is believed such an operation could set back Mr Kim's nuclear program by 10 years.

North Korea agreed last week to return to disarmament negotiations under pressure from China and UN sanctions. But it also called Japanese officials "political imbeciles" for claiming they would not allow Pyongyang to remain a nuclear power.

A senior US defence official said the US was committed to protecting South Korea and Japan from North Korean aggression, if necessary by using nuclear weapons.

"We will resort to whatever force levels we need to have," the official said. "That nuclear deterrence is in place."

Talk of plans to deal with a nuclear North Korea came as the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran was seen as encouraging apprehensive Arab states to reverse their support for a nuclear-free Middle East and develop atomic technology.

Michael Rubin, an expert on the Middle East at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said: "Iran and North Korea have shown that non-compliance equals reward."

The UN Security Council is still wrangling over Russian opposition to mild sanctions against Iran, even though President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is defiantly proceeding with Tehran's nuclear enrichment program.

In oil-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia, the benefits of a civilian nuclear power program may be hard to fathom.

David Albright, a nuclear proliferation expert at the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, said: "With Iran moving forward with its nuclear program, it is difficult for the IAEA to say to other nations, 'No, you can't have it', and the United States is not able to stop it."

According to Mr Rubin, America is partly responsible for the rush to acquire civilian nuclear energy. The US has been encouraging developing nations to embrace nuclear power under the global nuclear energy partnership (GNEP), launched by the State Department in February. Robert Joseph, US undersecretary for arms control and international security, said the GNEP aimed to promote clean, renewable energy while maintaining strict controls on non-proliferation.

"We think that would help us to envision a future where we can bring the benefits of nuclear power to the developing world," he said.

But Mr Rubin warned: "The idea that we can keep making concessions to nuclear proliferation and that it won't spread is a fantasy.

"If you cannot answer the question, 'Who is going to be in charge of these countries in 10 years' time?' it is idiotic to help them develop these programs."