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(LEAD) S. Korean military eyes new operation plan against N.K. threats

2017/10/16 18:32

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(ATTN: ADDS more info in last 6 paras)

SEOUL, Oct. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) chairman said Monday that the military is considering a new operational plan to counter "advanced" threats from North Korea.

Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo made the remarks during a parliamentary audit, noting it is separate from the existing operational plans formulated by Seoul and Washington to cope with the North's potential aggression and major provocations.

"We are envisioning a new operational plan in the face of the North's new advanced threats, based on the recalibration of the overall conditions, including our capabilities," Jeong said. "That is an issue that we have continued to review. ... (We) plan to continue consultations (with the United States)."


Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo speaks during a parliamentary audit at the JCS headquarters in Seoul on Oct. 16, 2017. (Yonhap) Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo speaks during a parliamentary audit at the JCS headquarters in Seoul on Oct. 16, 2017. (Yonhap)

The JCS chief did not specify what the envisioned plan aims to address. But the review comes amid Pyongyang's accelerating push to develop formidable strategic assets, such as an intercontinental ballistic missile, a submarine-launched ballistic missile, powerful nuclear warheads and cyberwarfare forces.

Asked about the claim that North Korean hackers are believed to have stolen the allies' key military operational plans last year, Jeong said they still remain "valid."

   "I cannot comment on whether the entire operational plans were stolen or not, but currently, we are making efforts to complement them," he said.

Citing reports from unidentified defense sources, Democratic Party Rep. Lee Cheol-hee recently claimed that the hackers broke into the Defense Integrated Data Center last September to steal the secret files, such as Operational Plans 5015 and 3100.

OPLAN 5015 is the latest Seoul-Washington scheme to handle an all-out war with Pyongyang, which reportedly contains detailed procedures to "decapitate" the North Korean leadership. OPLAN 3100 is Seoul's plan to respond to the North's localized provocations.

Lee pointed out that 235 gigabytes of military documents were taken by the hackers with the content of nearly 80 percent of them yet to be identified.

During the parliamentary audit, opposition lawmakers demanded the revision of the operational plans to ensure that Pyongyang would not be able to take advantage of the information in the event of contingencies.

During the audit, Jeong also voiced confidence that in case of conflict on the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. military would immediately intervene to defend Seoul, although there is no clause in the 1953 mutual defense treaty that stipulates America's "automatic" involvement.

"I am convinced that the U.S. military will immediately intervene and offer its troop augmentation (in case of contingency) as reaffirmed by its firm security commitments," he said.

Concerns have persisted that a financially constrained U.S., which faces a series of potential adversaries across the world, could hesitate to come to the defense of its ally, South Korea, should war break out here.

"The U.S. has in place a system that enables immediate military intervention without congressional consent in line with the domestic law," he said.

Asked about the South's ability to guard against a possible attack by the North using an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) bomb, Jeong said that his military's preparations are still insufficient.

An EMP bomb unleashes a high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy that causes severe current and voltage surges to damage electronic devices, including communications equipment.