South Korean and American soldiers take position during a military landing exercise. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
A retired Chinese general said that the US and South Korea have probably finished the preparations for a war with North Korea, citing the high possibility that Pyongyang has developed the ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads and the technology that allows missiles to re-enter the atmosphere from the outer space.
Wang Hongguang, former deputy commander of the Nanjing military region, said in an article published in the Global Times that he agreed to the view of an editorial of the party-controlled newspaper that the US and South Korea will battle with North Korea if the isolated nation possesses missiles equipped with miniaturized nuclear warheads and the re-entry technology that enables intercontinental ballistic missiles to hit the faraway America.
After the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed the Resolution 2270 in March, Pyongyang strongly reacted with the intimidation that it plans to conduct a fifth nuclear test and accelerate the experiments for the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and the development of the re-entry technology.
"Based on these facts, I believe that the conditions for the US and South Korea to launch a military strike against North Korea will become more mature in the near future," wrote Wang, describing the ongoing US-South Korea joint military drill as a preparation for the assault.
The joint military drill has entered a live-ammunition phase involving 317,000 soldiers from the US and South Korea and a mix of weaponry including two aircraft carrier strike groups, dozens of F-22 stealth fighter jets and B-2 strategic bombers as well as diversified reinforcement forces, which Wang said could be used for a high-amplitude modern war on the Korean Peninsula.
Previously, South Korean President Park Geun-hye has publically announced that her government will take a hard line on North Korea, after the nominally communist nation conducted its fourth nuclear test on January 6 and launched a rocket using banned ballistic missile technology on February 7, which led to the approval of the UNSC resolution in March.
The former military officer also said in the article that the US and South Korea have already mapped out a nuclear attack plan whose code name is "8022-02", which is replenished with three segmented military operation plans. The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea is also a part of the overall military plans, according to Wang. He added that the military plans will target North Korea's satellite launch centers, nuclear factories, nuclear facilities and nuclear arsenals, with an ultimate goal to overturn the Kim Jong Un regime.
In the article, Wang expressed his concern over the brinkmanship policy of the two sides, which he said would increase the possibility of a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
However, the former People's Liberation Army (PLA) commander deemed that the US will be very cautious about carrying out its military plans out of consideration of objection from China and Russia, which see North Korea as a geopolitical buffer.
China and the US are divided on the means to solve the North Korean nuclear issue.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has put forth a proposal of moving on parallel tracks of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and replacement of the armistice with a peace agreement.
Although China has given the nod to the UNSC's March resolution to impose stricter punishments on North Korea for its provocations in January and February, it also strongly objects to any unilateral sanctions on its neighbor. After the resolution, the US unilaterally slapped sweeping new sanctions on North Korea, which include banning anyone who does business with the country from the global financial system.
In an interview, Zhang Liangui, a professor at the International Institute of Strategic Studies under the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said that China will not militarily intervene in a war between the US and North Korea, as it has realized the North Korean nuclear ambition is a big challenge to the regional security.
"The current situation is different from the 1950s. The Sino-North Korean Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance cannot justify military intervention of China in case of a war. In addition, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the wish of the international community and coincides with China's interests. There are no domestic or international conditions for China to enter into a war (like the Korean War breaking out in the 1950s)," said Zhang.