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South Korea Reportedly Developing Plans for ‘Surgical Strike’ Against North Korea

A South Korean newspaper has reported that the nation’s military is developing plans for a surgical strike to eliminate missile and nuclear facilities in North Korea.

The Seoul newspaper Munwha Ilbo said that Taurus cruise missiles fired from F-15 fighters would be used to destroy North Korea’s deadliest facilities if South Korean President Moon Jae-in authorizes the action.

The newspaper said the plan was due to be complete as of Tuesday.

The report said South Korean special forces would take the lead in the attack, which would strike governmental targets in Pyongyang as well as military installations.

On Friday, North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile many analysts said could reach more of the United States.

On Saturday, South Korea showed off a missile that could destroy an underground bunker.

On Monday, South Korea’s ministry of national defense said that “North Korea is likely to test its nuclear warhead and missile through” another “test with more explosive power.”

In 1994, the United States considered a “surgical strike” on North Korea, but feared it would lead to mass casualties.

South Korean casualties are a major issue in military scenarios because millions of South Koreans, including the 10 million residents of its capital, Seoul, live within 50 miles of the demilitarized zone separating North Korea and South Korea.

“You have this massive agglomeration of everything that is important in South Korea — government, business and the huge population — and all of it is in this gigantic megalopolis that starts 30 miles from the border and ends 70 miles from the border,” said Robert E. Kelly, a professor of political science at Pusan National University in South Korea. “In terms of national security, it’s just nuts.”

North Korea has developed large artillery installations in its side of the DMZ, which means it does not need nuclear weapons and missiles to respond to any attack.

“North Korea knows it is the end game and will not go down without a fight,” said Jeffrey W. Hornung of the RAND Corporation. “I think it is going to be a barrage.”

David Maxwell, associate director for the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, said South Korean casualties are a fact of life for military planners.

“There is no silver bullet solution that can defeat North Korean fire before they inflict significant damage on Seoul and South Korea.”