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U.S. congressional report identifies 7 military options for N. Korea

2017/10/31 09:08

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. congressional report has identified seven possible military options the United States could use to handle the threat of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

In the report sent to lawmakers Friday, the Congressional Research Service offers options ranging from enhanced containment and deterrence to a change of regime in Pyongyang and to a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea.

It comes as tensions have escalated over North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, with Washington vowing to use military action to counter the threat if necessary.

The other options are maintaining the military status quo; "denying (North Korea's) acquisition of delivery systems capable of threatening the United States," such as by shooting down all missiles the North test-fires; and eliminating the North's long-range ballistic missiles and associated facilities and its nuclear facilities.

The report warns, however, that a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula could leave up to 300,000 dead in the first days of fighting. The estimate is based on the premise that North Korea uses only conventional munitions, not nuclear weapons. It also assumes that North Korean artillery is capable of firing 10,000 rounds per minute at Seoul.

"An escalation of a military conflict on the peninsula could affect upwards of 25 million people on either side of the border, including at least 100,000 U.S. citizens (some estimates range as high as 500,000)," the report says. "Even if (North Korea) uses only its conventional munitions, estimates range from between 30,000 and 300,000 dead in the first days of fighting."

   North Korea could go further to launch missiles toward Japan, including U.S. military assets stationed there, according to the report.

A military conflict would also present other challenges, such as evacuating American noncombatants from the peninsula, and rebuilding the South Korean and North Korean economies in the aftermath.

The costs of a conventional war could reach up to 70 percent of South Korea's annual gross domestic product, which was US$1.4 trillion last year, the report said, citing a 2010 study by the think tank RAND.

hague@yna.co.kr

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