13 January 2017
During the first North Korea nuclear crisis in 1993-1994, the administration of US President Bill Clinton considered preemptive air strikes on nuclear facilities and ballistic missile sites in the North.
Specifically, this involved the use of cruise missiles and F-117 stealth fighters to destroy North Korea’s plutonium reactor site at Yongbyon. At that time, the US Air Force at the Kunsan Air Base deployed six F-117s.
However, the decision was put on hold given the retaliatory and escalation risks that could lead to a major conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
In 2006, renewed calls emerged in the US for a strike on the North Korean sites because of an imminent launch of the long-range Taepo-Dong 2 missile. North Korea, meanwhile, has already reached nuclear weapons capability.
Since then, US-South Korean defense planners have been searching for a new strategy that would allow greater flexibility, adaptability and autonomy under conditions of strategic uncertainty.
The key challenge, however, is to distinguish North Korea’s strategic intentions, particularly as the reclusive state edges closer to developing road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with miniaturized nuclear warheads.
… Michael Raska is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
GPO / IDSS / Online
Last updated on 16/01/2017