Thursday, March 29, 2012

US General Warns of Growing N. Korea Threat

Cyberwar and Chemical Capabilities
Plus Fears of Falling Rocket Debris ...

The top commander of U.S. forces in South Korea says he is concerned about North Korea's growing capability to carry out attacks through nonconventional means, such as cyber warfare and chemical weapons.

Speaking to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, General James Thurman said North Korea's advances in computer hacking and biological weapons, combined with its massive conventional military, pose a serious threat to South Korea.

“North Korea continues to pursue asymmetric capabilities, especially in the areas of nuclear, missile and cyber," Thurman said. "The development of these asymmetric capabilities and the forward stationing of its conventional forces provide North Korea the ability to attack or provoke the Republic of Korea with little warning.”

Missile Development Threatens US

Thurman added that, if left “unchecked,” the development of Pyongyang's missile capability could eventually threaten the United States.

But he said that the nearly 30,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea are well positioned to repel any potential attack from North Korea, which has the fourth largest army in the world.

Appearing at the hearing, Peter Lavoy, the acting assistant secretary of defense for Asia-Pacific security, said the debris from North Korea's planned rocket launch could cause casualties in North Korea's neighboring countries.

“The North Koreans have indicated that they will launch the missile in a southward direction," Lavoy said. "And, I don't know if we have any confidence on the stability of the missile or where the actual impact will be. A number of countries are potentially affected. This could fall on--the debris could fall on their countries; could cause casualties. This— this affects South Korea, of course, but also Japan — Okinawa, the island of Japan.”