Korea Threatens Northeast Asian, World Security
By Gerry J. Gilmore
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il heads the world’s fifth-largest
military and continues to act as if he might use it to subjugate
his southern neighbor, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea
told the House Armed Services Committee here March 31.
Army Gen. Leon J. LaPorte said in prepared testimony, "poses
a variety of threats to regional and global security," and
"reunification of the (Korean) peninsula under North Korean
control remains the primary stated purpose" of Kim’s regime.
has a nearly million-man field army and another 6 million reservists,
LaPorte pointed out. Seventy percent of that force, he said, is
deployed south of the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, placing
it "where they are capable of attacking with little tactical
LaPorte reported, many North Korean long-range artillery units
are targeted on South Korea’s capital and "can strike Seoul
from their current locations."
Kim is channeling
a third of his starving country’s domestic product to fund his
military, LaPorte said, while the dictator replenishes government
coffers with international aid and ill-gotten gains from drug
production, smuggling and counterfeiting.
although he described the North Korean economy as "derelict,"
LaPorte acknowledged that Kim’s military "has the ability
to inflict great destruction and casualties if they choose to
Korean military also possesses a bevy of asymmetrical capabilities,
including a 122,000-member commando force, which is "the
world’s largest," LaPorte said.
are tough, dedicated, well-trained and profoundly loyal to the
Kim regime," the general explained, noting that such a force
could produce much mayhem.
Koreans also have more than 500 Scud missiles "that can deliver
conventional or chemical weapons across the entire (Korean) peninsula,"
LaPorte said, while the regime continues to develop an inventory
of No-Dong ballistic missiles that are capable of striking Japan.
They’re also working on "a three- stage variant of the Taepo
Dong missile," LaPorte reported, that "could provide
North Korea the capacity to target the continental United States."
has "an assessed significant chemical agent stockpile,"
LaPorte noted, as well as a bioweapon inventory that may include
anthrax, botulism, cholera, hemorrhagic fever, plague, smallpox,
typhoid and yellow fever.
Korea believes that these missile, chemical and biological weapons
programs measurably contribute to its security from external threats
and supplement their conventional military capabilities,"
the general explained.
the lawmakers that North Korea has pulled out of several anti-
nuclear proliferation agreements in recent years, and that intelligence
agencies believe the country has one or two nuclear weapons and
may be able to make more.
Kim regime has clearly stated it will continue to increase its
nuclear deterrent capability," LaPorte said, "unless
it receives significant economic assistance, security guarantees
and appropriate political concessions from the international community."
There is no
reason to expect that North Korea will change its policies, LaPorte
told the committee, noting that Kim’s power is strongly ensconced
across the government and military. Therefore, "for the foreseeable
future, North Korea remains a major challenge to security in Northeast
Asia," the general concluded.