U.S. speeds at­tack plans for N. Korea China cited as Pushed by nuke strate­gic sup­plier test, Pen­tagon to North Korea tar­gets plant

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Bill Gertz By Bill Gertz

China helped North Korea de­velop nu­clear weapons and in the past year in­creased its sup­port to Py­ongyang, rather than press­ing the regime to halt nu­clear arms and mis­sile ac­tiv­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to a con­gres­sional re­port.

The fi­nal draft re­port of the U.S.China Eco­nomic Se­cu­rity Re­view Com­mis­sion also says that Chi­nese gov­ern­ment-run com­pa­nies are con­tin­u­ing to threaten U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity by ex­port­ing arms to Amer­i­can en­e­mies in Asia and the Mid­dle East.

The re­port is based on pub­lic tes­ti­mony and highly clas­si­fied intelligence re­ports made avail­able to its mem­bers and staff. It in­di­rectly crit­i­cizes the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion for fail­ing to pres­sure Bei­jing into join­ing U.S.-led an­tipro­lif­er­a­tion pro­grams and calls for Congress to take ac­tion to force the ad­min­is­tra­tion to do more.

“China has con­trib­uted at least in­di­rectly to North Korea’s nu­clear pro­gram,” the re­port stated, not­ing that China was a “pri­mary sup­plier” to Pak­istan’s nu­clear-arms pro­gram.

Acopy of the com­mis­sion’s fi­nal draft re­port, due to be re­leased for­mally this month, was made avail­able to The Wash­ing­ton Times by con­gres­sional aides. Congress cre­ated the bi­par­ti­san com­mis­sion of

The Pen­tagon has stepped up plan­ning for at­tacks against North Korea’s nu­clear pro­gram and is bol­ster­ing nu­clear forces in Asia, said de­fense of­fi­cials familiar with the highly se­cret process.

The of­fi­cials, speak­ing on the con­di­tion of anonymity, said the ac­cel­er­ated mil­i­tary plan­ning in­cludes de­tailed pro­grams for strik­ing a North Korean plu­to­nium-re­pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity at Yong­byon with spe­cial op­er­a­tions com­mando raids or strikes with Tom­a­hawk cruise mis­siles or other pre­ci­sionguided weapons.

The ef­fort, which had been un­der way for sev­eral months, was given new im­pe­tus by Py­ongyang’s un­der­ground nu­clear test Oct. 9 and grow­ing op­po­si­tion to the nu­clear pro­gram of Kim Jong-il’s com­mu­nist regime, es­pe­cially by China and South Korea.

A Pen­tagon of­fi­cial said the De­part­ment of De­fense is con­sid­er­ing “var­i­ous mil­i­tary op­tions” to re­move the pro­gram.

“Other than nu­clear strikes, which are con­sid­ered ex­ces­sive, there are sev­eral op­tions now in place. Plan­ning has been ac­cel­er­ated,” the of­fi­cial said.

A sec­ond, se­nior de­fense of­fi­cial privy to the ef­fort said the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion re­cently af­firmed its com­mit­ment to both South

Korea and Ja­pan that it would use U.S. nu­clear weapons to de­ter North Korea, now con­sid­ered an un­of­fi­cial nu­clear weapon state.

“We will re­sort to what­ever force lev­els we need to have, to de­fend the Repub­lic of Korea. That nu­clear de­ter­rence is in place,” said the se­nior of­fi­cial, who de­clined to re­veal what nu­clear forces are de­ployed in Asia.

Other of­fi­cials said the forces in­clude bombs and air-launched mis­siles stored at Guam, a U.S. is­land in the west­ern Pa­cific, that could be de­liv­ered by B-52 or B-2 bombers. Nine U.S. nu­clear-mis­sile sub­marines reg­u­larly de­ploy to Asian wa­ters from Wash­ing­ton state.

The of­fi­cials said one mil­i­tary op­tion calls for teams of Navy SEALs or other spe­cial op­er­a­tions com­man­dos to con­duct covert raids on Yong­byon’s plu­to­nium-re­pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity.

The com­man­dos would blow up the fa­cil­ity to pre­vent fur­ther re­pro­cess­ing of the spent fuel rods, which pro­vides the ma­te­rial for de­vel­op­ing nu­clear weapons.

A sec­ond op­tion calls for strikes by pre­ci­sion-guided Tom­a­hawk mis­siles on the re­pro­cess­ing plant from sub­marines or ships. The plan calls for si­mul­ta­ne­ous strikes from var­i­ous sides to min­i­mize any ra­dioac­tive par­ti­cles be­ing car­ried away in the air.

Plan­ners es­ti­mate that six Tom­a­hawks could de­stroy the re­pro­cess­ing plant and that it would take five to 10 years to re­build.

Asked about the strike plan­ning, Pen­tagon spokesman Bryan Whit­man said the U.S. gov­ern­ment is seek­ing a “peace­ful, diplo­matic so­lu­tion” to the threat posed by North Korea.

Re­gard­ing any mil­i­tary op­tions, Mr. Whit­man said, “The U.S. mil­i­tary is pre­pared and ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing out all of its as­signed mis­sions.”

The plan­ning does not mean that the United States will at­tack, only that mil­i­tary forces are ready to do so if Pres­i­dent Bush or­ders strikes. Con­cerned about threats from rogue states such as North Korea, Mr. Bush called for a bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­fense sys­tem, parts of which are op­er­a­tional.

De­fense of­fi­cials said a key fac­tor in the ramped-up plan­ning ef­fort is China’s new at­ti­tude to­ward North Korea. Bei­jing’s lead­ers, up­set that North Korea con­ducted the test, sup­ported a U.S.-led United Na­tions’ res­o­lu­tion.

Chi­nese op­po­si­tion to mil­i­tary ac­tion had lim­ited de­fense plan­ning, the of­fi­cials said. In the past, U.S. mil­i­tary plans re­quired warn­ing Bei­jing, a move con­sid­ered likely to com­pro­mise any planned ac­tion be­cause of the close mil­i­tary ties be­tween China and North Korea.

The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion re- gards the new level of Chi­nese sup­port as a “green light” for more ag­gres­sive mil­i­tary plan­ning.

U.S. of­fi­cials think North Korea will con­duct an­other un­der­ground test soon be­cause Py­ongyang is de­mand­ing to be rec­og­nized as a de­clared nu­clear power. Both China and the U.S. gauged the test as only par­tially suc­cess­ful.

The Yong­byon plant, 32 miles from the coast and a half-mile from a river, is con­sid­ered a key tar­get be­cause U.S. intelligence agen­cies sus­pect that it is where the plu­to­nium fuel used in the Oct. 9 test was pro­duced.

De­fense plan­ners also said equip­ment de­stroyed at Yong­byon would be dif­fi­cult to re­place once newly ap­proved U.N. sanc­tions are in place.

An­other set of tar­gets could be the nu­clear test site near Kilchu, in north­east­ern North Korea. That site in­cludes sev­eral re­search and test­ing-con­trol fa­cil­i­ties in the moun­tains — and pos­si­bly one more tun­nel where a nu­clear de­vice could be set off, the of­fi­cials said.

Re­cent intelligence re­ports also pro­vided new in­for­ma­tion about Py­ongyang’s ura­nium-en­rich­ment pro­gram, which re­mains hid­den in un­der­ground fa­cil­i­ties in north­ern North Korea, the of­fi­cials said.

The U.S. Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand­has­been­plan­ningraids against North Korean nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties for some time. It has con­ducted train­ing for joint op­er­a­tions with South Korean spe­cial forces as well as uni­lat­eral U.S. op­er­a­tions.

U.S. Pa­cific Com­mand spokesman Capt. Jeff Alder­son de­clined to com­ment on mil­i­tary plan­ning but said the com­mand is con­tin­u­ing to shift forces to the Pa­cific and has four mis­sile-de­fense ships de­ployed in Ja­pan.

Mr. Bush said re­cently that any trans­fer of nu­clear weapons by North Korea would be a “grave threat,” phras­ing viewed as diplo­matic code for a mil­i­tary re­sponse. De­fense of­fi­cials said the mil­i­tary op­tion will be used if North Korea is caught trans­fer­ring nu­clear arms to other states or ter­ror­ist groups.

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