North Korea on Sunday claimed it possessed the ability to neutralize the United States' modern warfare capabilities, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, July 26).
"(North Korea) has various types of strike means... powerful enough to render the U.S. modern war means ineffective," asserted the Stalinist regime's National Defense Commission in a message aired by state-controlled media.
Pyongyang has a number of WMD development programs, including a nuclear weapons effort. The isolated country is also understood to be developing offensive cyber capabilities.
The National Defense Commission pledged to carry out a "powerful physical counteroffensive" on the United States, though it provided no further details. Such threats from North Korea are not unusual. Experts, however, are taking note of Pyongyang's recent declaration that it will "completely review" its nuclear weapons posture in light of its perception of Washington's antagonistic policy toward the North (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, July 29).
Meanwhile, the U.S. Defense Department in a lengthy assessment to Congress said it is determined to meet a schedule for ending the Combined Forces Command in South Korea in three years, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
The Combined Forces Command for decades has directed the bilateral activities of South Korean soldiers and deployed U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula. Once the command is ended, U.S. and South Korean military forces would carry out independent operations in times of conflict though the two sides will continue to closely collaborate (Lee Chi-dong, Yonhap News Agency I, July 28).
Separately, the commander of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula, Gen. James Thurman, last week said he was "encouraged" by indications that North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un regime's would be different than that of his late father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il, "but that I think it's too early to tell," Stars and Stripes reported.
Signs that Kim Jong Un is pursuing his own course include Pyongyang's quick public admission that an April effort to send a long-range rocket into space had failed; the recent dismissal of the military's top officer, who is understood to have been a close confident of his father; and a number of cultural appearances by Kim alongside his recently acknowledged wife (Jon Rabiroff, Stars and Stripes, July 30).
South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan warned on Monday against being taken by the apparent North Korean public image campaign on behalf of Kim, Yonhap reported.
"We should not be swayed by those reports of images," a staffer quoted Kim as saying. "Though we should not downplay signs of a change in North Korea and hope such signs will bring a change, do not focus on images" (Yonhap News Agency II, July 30).
North Korea on Sunday claimed it possessed the ability to neutralize the United States' modern warfare capabilities, Agence France-Presse reported.