How war with North Korea could be the bloodiest in history if Kim Jong-un unleashes arsenal of nukes & chemical weapons | The Sun
WAR with North Korea could be the bloodiest in history if Kim Jong-un unleashes his arsenal of nukes and chemical weapons, experts warn.
America has sent a nuclear submarine to the South for the first time in decades as the drums of war begin to beat on the Korean peninsula.
Kim, meanwhile, has launched a flurry of missile tests as he steps up weapon trials.
The deranged dictator and his sadistic sister continue to grow their nuclear arsenal amid fears they are ramping up to a devastating new atomic test.
Biden is focused on Ukraine and Taiwan, but experts warn a Korean war could cost millions of lives and prove far more destructive than the hell that Vladimir Putin has unleashed in Europe.
And it could just as easily drag the US into a fight against China, sparking World War Three and possible nuclear Armageddon, which would likely make it the bloodiest war in history.
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As tensions hit boiling point, The Sun has mapped out how a new Korean War might play out and how bloody the toll could be.
Dr Bruce Bennett, a North Korea expert from the RAND think-tank, believes the war would play out in three broad phases – along with a preliminary phase of escalation.
Since the last time North and South Korea almost came to blows back in 2017 while Donald Trump was President, Kim has dedicated himself to building up his nuclear stockpile.
He now has so many nukes the US no longer believes they are for defensive purposes but instead to allow Kim to carry out conventional military strikes south of the border.
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In this scenario – which a recent National Intelligence Council paper warned is the "most likely" – Kim may strike out at infrastructure, ships, South Korean islands or other targets, confident that his nukes will deter the South or the US from hitting back.
The aim would be to get the allies to give him concessions – such as sanctions relief – in return for stopping the strikes, but if he goes too far then he may trigger a retaliation.
Dr Bennett said: "The potential for war is that the South gets tired and responds more aggressively, trying to reign in the North, and we get stuck into an escalation cycle.
"For example, the South responds by destroying a military HQ, the North then responds with artillery along the de-militarized zone, the South expands that, and it all escalates up to major conflict."
Phase 1: Decapitation
Should a major conflict break out, then it is likely to be one of the bloodiest the world has ever seen. Beyond that, there are few certainties.
But Dr Bennett believes the most likely scenario is that the war would play out in three broad phases – the first of which would involve decapitation strikes by both sides against the other.
South Korea’s ground forces – even with US reinforcements – are no match for the size of the North Korean army.
In 2022, Seoul had just 365,000 active duty troops at its command and the US currently has a little under 30,000 men on the peninsula.
By comparison, Kim has 1.2million.
To make up for the shortfall in manpower, South Korea has invested heavily in technology such as F-35 fighter jets to even the odds.
The first target for North Korea will be airfields, ports, and military bases to leave South Korea’s vulnerable ground troops exposed.
And Kim could well decide to use his nuclear weapons for those strikes, having recently passed a law allowing him to launch them preemptively.
Dr Bennett says official US policy is that Kim’s regime "will not survive" if he uses nukes – meaning Washington would launch its own atomic weapons to wipe him out.
But he added: "Kim may hope he can coerce the US with his ICBM threat. Would America really risk striking Pyongyang if it meant Seattle or New York getting hit?"
The dictator also has large stockpiles of nerve agents such as sarin and VX, as well as chemical weapons containing anthrax and smallpox that he could unleash.
If the US decided not to strike back with nukes, then Washington and Seoul would carry out their own decapitation strikes on the North using jets, missiles, and special forces.
As well as launching from air bases in South Korea, the USS Ronald Reagan – an aircraft carrier deployed to the Pacific – would likely join, along with long-range bombers from US bases in Japan and Guam.
The prime target, according to Dr Bennett, would be Kim’s missiles.
South Korean doctrine calls for a "kill chain" that would first wipe out North Korea’s missile launchers, then its spare missile stockpiles and warheads.
After that, they would move on to Kim’s air defences including his ageing air force and much newer and more-sophisticated anti-air missiles.
Third would be the elimination of Kim himself, which the South has vowed to do using "massive" force – levelling cities if necessary.
Phase 2: Southern skirmishes
If the first phase of the war proved inconclusive, with neither side able to knock the other out of the war completely, then the second phase would see events on the ground step up.
North Korea has around 7,000 artillery pieces deployed on high ground overlooking Seoul which would almost certainly be used to unleash hell on the densely populated city.
More than 32million people live within range of North Korea’s longest-range artillery, a 2018 RAND paper revealed, almost 10million of whom are in Seoul.
South Korea may attempt attacks north across the border to try and push the artillery away, but risks getting its relatively small military chewed up in the process.
Instead, it could be forced to rely on a duel with its own guns to keep the North Koreans quiet – particularly if its ground troops are occupied with skirmishes along the border.
Dr Bennett believes Kim is unlikely to order his huge army to march south because they would quickly come across all the trappings of modern life once across the border.
This would blow apart the propaganda they have been fed their whole lives about life being poorer in the South, and may risk the North Korean state collapsing.
The one thing that could force Kim’s hand, Dr Bennett says, is if he feared a rebellion by his generals. In that case, they could be sent into battle to keep them from seizing power.
If such an attack comes, then the South’s goal will be to hold Kim’s army off for long enough that the US can muster its main army and come to help.
While America has the largest military on the planet, only a tiny fraction is deployed to Korea and assembling a large enough force to push the North back would not be easy.
Seoul estimates that force would need to be huge, involving some 600,000 men – three times the number deployed to Iraq at its peak – and 2,000 aircraft.
Dr Bennet is sceptical that the US could deploy that many men – at least not without mobilising its reserves – which may slow the process further.
They would then have to be shipped across the Pacific, all of which would likely take weeks and possibly months to pull together.
Phase 3: The push north
But once the main US force did arrive, the US and South Korea could begin a push north.
The first goal would be to get North Korea’s weapons out of range of the capital, and the second would be to capture Pyongyang and bring the war to a close.
But such a march would be fraught with dangers.
First, Dr Bennett believes Kim would almost certainly have kept some nuclear weapons in reserve with the aim of threatening nuclear armageddon for the invaders.
He could threaten to nuke the advancing troops, a major South Korean city, or the US mainland in the hopes of forcing some kind of peace deal.
Second, it is unlikely the war could have dragged on for this long without the Chinese getting involved, Dr Bennett says.
While Xi is one of Kim’s closest allies, he is no fan of the despot’s nuclear weapons programme and does not want to see an atomic war fought on his doorstep.
Dr Bennett believes, therefore, that Chinese special forces are likely to be spread out across the country at this point – having been sent in to secure North Korean nuclear sites so Kim cannot use the weapons.
But this does not mean they will welcome the arrival of the US and South Koreans.
If the two sides meet unexpectedly on the battlefield, it could well escalate into a shooting match and spark a war between the two superpowers.
And the opposing forces could also come to blows in the air, because China could well decide to implement a no-fly zone along its border with North Korea.
That could cause big problems for the US and South Korea, especially considering some of Kim’s nuclear bases are located in that region.
Washington would be forced to make a grim calculation: Sending fighters into a Chinese no-fly zone and risk World War Three, or risk Kim firing a nuke.
The final outcome
This is all likely to lead to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of deaths.
Dr Bennett said: "Even the Korean War in the 1950s with no nuclear weapons use, hundreds of thousands of people were killed on both sides.
"Adding nuclear weapons could dramatically increase the casualties.
"For example, one programme that does nuclear damage assessment shows that if a single North Korean nuclear weapon… detonates as an airburst at its default location for Seoul, almost 600,000 people could be killed and another 2.5 million seriously injured.
"And North Korea might well have the nuclear material required to make 50 to 100 nuclear weapons."
A refugee crisis would almost certainly ensue, as millions fled north into China. Japan would almost certainly come under pressure to take people fleeing the south.
And Russia could also be dragged into it since it shares a small border with the North.
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Given the indoctrination that North Korea’s population has been subjected to, any occupying powers would be almost certain to face insurgency movements which could destabilise the peninsula for decades to come.
And even if that challenge could be overcome, the conflict would end with Chinese and US forces separated only by a border line – making it a flashpoint for future tensions.
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