Securing North Korea nukes would require US ground invasion: Report

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Washington | Published: November 5, 2017 6:32:23 PM

North Korea could use biological and chemical weapons in the event of a conflict and the only way to locate and secure all of its nuclear weapons sites "with complete certainty" is through an invasion of ground forces, the Pentagon has warned.

North Korea, North Korea nukes, US ground invasion, nuclear weapons sites, Pentagon, chemical weaponsThe Pentagon leaders “assess that North Korea may consider the use of biological weapons,” the letter said. (Image: Reuters)

North Korea could use biological and chemical weapons in the event of a conflict and the only way to locate and secure all of its nuclear weapons sites “with complete certainty” is through an invasion of ground forces, the Pentagon has warned. In a letter to lawmakers, the Pentagon said that a full discussion of US capabilities to “counter North Korea’s ability to respond with a nuclear weapon and to eliminate” its nuclear weapons located in underground sites is best suited for a classified briefing, the Washington Post reported. The letter, reportedly written by vice director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff Rear Adm. Michael J Dumont, said North Korea “has a long-standing chemical weapons program with the capability to produce nerve, blister, blood and choking agents.” The Pentagon leaders “assess that North Korea may consider the use of biological weapons,” the letter said. The letter was in response to a request from two members of Congress about “expected casualty assessments in a conflict with North Korea,” the Post said.

The Pentagon said that calculating “best- or worst-case casualty scenarios” was challenging and would depend on the “nature, intensity and duration” of a North Korean attack; how much warning civilians would have to get to the shelters in South Korea; and the ability of US and South Korean forces to respond to North Korean artillery, rockets and missiles. A statement by 16 lawmakers, released simultaneously with the Pentagon letter, urged President Donald Trump to stop making “provocative statements” that impede diplomatic efforts and risk the lives of US troops, the paper said.

Trump and North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-Un have traded increasingly threatening and personal insults as Pyongyang races towards its goal of developing a nuclear- tipped missile capable of reaching the US. Tensions have dramatically risen on the Korean peninsula after North Korea conducted its biggest nuclear test in September, which its state-run KCNA news agency described as a hydrogen bomb.

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