The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The Pen­tagon is in­ten­si­fy­ing mil­i­tary plan­ning for war on the Korean Penin­sula de­spite the ap­par­ent thaw be­tween North Korea and the United States over Py­ongyang’s nu­clear weapons and long-range mis­sile pro­gram.

Pen­tagon of­fi­cials say the mil­i­tary plan­ning has in­creased in re­cent weeks and in­volves re­work­ing and re­fin­ing Op Plan 5027, as the war plan for a con­flict against North Korea is called.

The ac­tiv­ity is be­ing done by plan­ners in the Pen­tagon in co­or­di­na­tion with of­fi­cials from U.S. Forces Korea, the mil­i­tary com­mand in South Korea. The ob­jec­tive is to de­ter­mine how best to ex­e­cute Pres­i­dent Trump’s or­der to elim­i­nate the North Korean nu­clear pro­gram.

The stepped-up plan­ning comes as Py­ongyang sig­naled this week that it is ready to hold talks with the United States and South Korea on its nu­clear pro­gram.

Cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion pol­icy to­ward North Korea is to im­pose max­i­mum diplo­matic and fi­nan­cial pres­sure, re­sult­ing in dozens of new eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial sanc­tions on the regime of Kim Jong-un in a bid to force him to back down. In­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials as­sess that the sanc­tions are be­gin­ning to have an im­pact on North Korea’s al­ready weak econ­omy.

Mr. Trump took credit for the lat­est over­ture and tweeted that the re­sponse in­di­cated “pos­si­ble progress.” But he also said the United States re­mains ready to use force.

“For the first time in many years, a se­ri­ous ef­fort is be­ing made by all par­ties con­cerned,” the pres­i­dent tweeted. “The World is watch­ing and wait­ing! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in ei­ther direc­tion!”

Pre-emp­tive U.S. mil­i­tary ac­tion is widely viewed as pro­duc­ing dev­as­ta­tion for South Korea and pos­si­bly Ja­pan, which both have U.S. mil­i­tary bases, and could quickly es­ca­late to a nu­clear ex­change. North Korea’s mil­i­tary readi­ness was dis­cussed on Capi­tol Hill at a Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee hear­ing this week.

Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ash­ley, di­rec­tor of the De­fense In­tel­li­gence Agency, said North Korean threats to turn the South Korean cap­i­tal of Seoul into a “sea of fire” are not pro­pa­ganda.

“I’m not sure of the phrase, but it would be a sig­nif­i­cant amount of ca­su­al­ties,” Gen. Ash­ley said.

North Korea’s army uses out­dated Soviet-era de­sign weapons, in­clud­ing mas­sive amounts of ar­tillery de­ployed close to the Demil­i­ta­rized Zone sep­a­rat­ing the Koreas.

They in­clude self-pro­pelled ar­tillery and guns and how­itzers rang­ing in size from tubes with 122-mil­lime­ter to 152-mil­lime­ter bar­rels. Also de­ployed are North Korean-pro­duced Kok­san guns of 170-mil­lime­ter cal­iber. Rocket ar­tillery in­cludes at least three cal­ibers of mul­ti­ple rocket launch­ers, in 107-, 122- and 240-mil­lime­ter sizes, many mounted on trucks. Gen. Ash­ley said the ma­jor­ity of the ar­tillery weapons are well-main­tained.

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