Tensions have risen across the world as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shows his newly found nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capabilities.
Far from backing down, the US and South Korea have rolled up their sleeves and shown what they can do, according to American Military News. Earlier this month, militaries from both countries showed footage of their bunker-busting missiles, proving Kim is not even safe in his underground hideouts.
The footage shows a Hyunmoo-II missile being launched from truck-mounted missile batteries and precisely targeting a designated strike area. The missile burrows into the ground and detonates within the underground bunker, sending out a fireball through the tunnels that incinerates everything in its path.
The Hyunmoo-II missile, as stated by a spokesperson for the South Korean government, is “aimed at sending a clear warning against North Korea’s repeated provocations,” and “will be a key component in our kill chain to counter possible North Korean missile attacks.”
The “kill chain” is a preemptive military strike strategy designed and coordinated by the US and South Korea according to US News. The first step utilizes satellite surveillance of North Korea to determine the location of strategic areas, such as nuclear missile factories, nuclear warhead stores, or the location of Kim himself. The next step would see a missile like the Hyunmoo-II launched at these strategic locations.
Another possibility South Korea has explored is using short-range missiles in retaliation to a launch as part of the Korean Massive Punishment and Retaliation plan. It’s designed to have missile defense batteries and aircraft target the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang, following a missile launch from North Korea.
The potential use of missiles in retaliatory strikes has proven controversial, considering the risks to civilian life such explosions could bring. An alternative that would have less collateral damage would be to send in an assassination team made up of special forces, which is believed to be the part of the Operation Plan 5015, according to Fox News.
Operation Plan 5015 is rumored to include a “decapitation plan” that would have teams of special forces track down and assassinate the North Korean dictator and other key leaders. A United Nations representative from the DPRK wrote a letter condemning the plan, saying it would “constitute a grave threat to [North Korea] as well as international peace and security.”
Such assassination attempts would prove difficult, however, according to Mark Sauter, a retired US Special Forces officer who worked in the Korean demilitarized zone. “Pyongyang is surrounded by antiaircraft weapons… he’s kept on the move, always surrounded by fanatical guards and often near or in complex underground compounds,” Sauter said.
Kim Jong-un has long labored under the misconception that he is safe from targeting by foreign military operatives as he hides deep within his hermit nation. Do you believe Kim Jong-un is vulnerable to preemptive targeting?
But Sauter warned that if Kim poses a large enough threat, there’s very little he could do to stop his eventual assassination. “[Kim] does need to worry about strikes by precision-guided missiles and bunker-buster bombs in the early stages of a preemptive allied attack, and if a conflict continues, everything from (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to special operators will be on his tracks,” he said.
Though peace is preferable to conflict, we need to be ready for war should North Korea start one. Hopefully, the US and South Korean demonstrations of the bunker-busting missiles will give Kim pause before he considers striking at other countries with his missiles.