The tension is rising in Asia, with worrying signs that conflict could break out at any point.In the Koreas, fallout over a prospective North Korean nuclear test has South Korean troops on the border receiving orders to return fire immediately against DPRK forces.
In South Korean press, there’s worrying, though non-conclusive, talk of a “pre-emptive” strike.
According to the Hankyoreh, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Jung Seung-jo was called to report to the National Assembly’s defence Committee on February 6 over the risks posed by North Korean nukes.
He told the committee that the South Korean military would risk war with North Korea with a pre-emptive attack if “signs of an imminent nuclear weapon launch against the South were detected”, the Hankyoreh writes.
Jung reportedly hesitated when asked if this meant all out war, instead suggesting a surgical strike.
According to the Chosun Ilbo, Jung also guessed that North Korea would be testing a “pre-hydrogen” nuclear weapon, perhaps a “boosted fission weapon” that could the size and weight of nuclear weapons enough for a nuclear warhead to fit on a missile.
Given the current situation, Jung said there were no plans for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea’s nuclear test site. However, he added, “We may change our mind if the situation changes.”
Yonhap News notes that North Korea didn’t let Jung’s comments go without response, with the official KNCA news organisation writing “They do not know what a real war is like and they would shudder after experiencing our military’s spirit to attack in a single breath.”
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