US TRAINED FOR STRIKES ON NORTH KOREA
The United States had active contingency plans as recently as 1998 to drop up to 30 nuclear warheads on North Korea in case of an attack on Seoul, according to declassified documents from the Central Intelligence Agency and other U.S. government departments.
Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported Sunday that as part of the U.S.’ “scenario 5027,” 24 F15-E bombers flew simulation missions at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina to drop mock nuclear bombs on a firing range in Florida between January and June 1998.
It quoted the intelligence reports as saying that AWACS and KC-135 mid-air refueling planes also took part in the drills to prepare pilots for missions against North Korea from air bases in the U.S.
The revelation follows claims by an opposition party lawmaker last month that the U.S. drew up plans to launch preemptive strikes on key targets in North Korea in 1994. Labeled “scenario 5026,” it identified 756 targets that could be taken out by U.S. B-2 stealth bombers and F-117 stealth fighters in order to disable Pyongyang, especially its suspected nuclear weapons capabilities.
The report also comes amid concerns that re-elected U.S. President George W. Bush will take a tougher line with North Korea during his second term if it refuses to scrap its nuclear weapons programs.
The newly declassified documents also showed the U.S. kept nuclear weaponry in South Korea until at least 1998, despite officially claiming it had withdrawn all nuclear warheads in 1991, Kyodo reported.
Washington had conducted drills on the use of nuclear weapons in South Korea since 1958 and in one case fired a mock nuclear weapon at Kunsan Air Base along the southwestern coast of South Korea in 1991, the reports said.
Regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, the intelligence documents indicated the U.S. detected a new experimental nuclear plant in Yongbyon in 1982.
A CIA report from September 1986 also judged North Korea to have the ability to produce nuclear-detonation devices within months if it could import materials from abroad.
North Korean MiG-23 warplanes could deliver the nuclear weapons if they were modified slightly, Kyodo quoted the report as saying.