North Korean defectors deported back from South Korea in 2019
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Seoul has doubled-down on its efforts to pump money and resources into its Kill Chain strategy, it has been reported. The strategy, as set out by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, looks to deter any nuclear attack by Pyongyang.
It intends to do so by preparing for preemptive strikes if necessary.
Despite having first been developed a decade or so ago, Kill Chain also keeps the possibility of an attack against senior leadership on the table if an imminent threat is identified.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Ankit Panda claimed the threat to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was particularly destabilising.
He said: “I can see why leadership decapitation is tempting for South Korea, but threatening to kill the leadership of a nuclear-armed state is uniquely dangerous.”
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Panda added: “Kim has ample reason to believe that he can employ his nuclear weapons in a limited way and still survive.”
Jeffrey Lewis, a missile researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, also suggested the plans could have destabilising consequences on the region.
He said: “The most plausible route to a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.”
Lewis added: “This is the military plan that is most likely to succeed.
“But it is also the option most likely to create uncontrollable escalation dynamics and start a nuclear war.”
The news comes just days after US and South Korean forces fired eight missiles into the Sea of Japan.
The launches follow on from similar exercises conducted by North Korea just 24 hours before.
Talking about the US-South Korea launch, Seoul’s joint chiefs of staff said: “[It] demonstrated the capability and posture to launch immediate precision strikes on the origins of provocations, even if North Korea launches missiles from various locations.”
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Washington’s close relationship with Seoul and even Tokyo has prompted Pyongyang to denounce US involvement.
A North Korean spokesperson said earlier this month: “The reality clearly shows that the real purpose of the US spreading the rumour about ‘threat from North Korea’ is to provide an excuse for attaining military supremacy over the Asia-Pacific region.”
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