Go to contents

What If North Sells Nukes to Terrorists?

Posted October. 27, 2006 06:59,   


The Ministry of National Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff held a meeting on October 10, 2006, just a day after North Korea’s nuclear test, with senior military leaders to review countermeasures against rapidly changing security situations, sources say. So now much attention is now being focused on the details of the meeting. Over 50 commanders who are in charge of an army corps or an upper unit participated in the meeting, which was presided over by Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung.

According to sources, Minister Yoon and the top military commanders of the meeting agreed to review and reinforce countermeasures prepared for North Korean crises at the pan-government level.

In line with the incumbent administration’s engagement policy against North Korea, the military, which did not want not to provoke North Korea, has been cautious about mentioning measures prepared in case of a rapid change in North Korea. However, experts believe the military officials have reached a consensus that the existing measures must be reassessed or strengthened as it has become apparently true that North Korea is armed with nuclear weapons.

First, experts believe the U.S. is likely to reactivate OPLAN 5029, a contingency plan on how the South Korean and the U.S. armies will intervene in a range of emergencies inside North Korea, such as the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and a civil war.

The U.S. believes “the worst scenario” is a situation where rebel troops seize nuclear weapons during a coup or civil war that may take place in North Korea and try to threaten the international community or North Korea secretly sells nuclear weapons to terrorists overseas.

The U.S. formally proposed Seoul at the end of 2003 to participate in establishing OPLAN 5029.

However, the National Security Council put a break on OPLAN 5029 last year, saying it violates sovereignty. Eventually, Minister Yoon and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stopped further developing OPLAN 5029 in May of last year, agreeing to revise and develop the plan as a CONPLAN. A CONPLAN, which does not include details of troop operation, is a prior stage before an OPLAN.

The U.S. is expected to ask Korea to resume OPLAN 5029 as Washington’s most-afraid-scenario is that terrorist groups like al Qaeda secretly obtain nuclear weapons and conduct a nuclear terror on the U.S. soil.

The government is also expectedly to revise Chungmoo Plan, a government-level contingency plan in case of emergencies in North Korea. Chungmoo 3300 is a contingency plan prepared in case of massive North Korean defection and refugee situations and Chungmoo 9000 is another contingency plan devised to govern North Korea in case of a collapse of the North Korean regime.

These plans are closely related to OPLAN 5027 which has been prepared by the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command in case of an all-out war against North Korea. The government has been also carrying out a mock exercise during the Ulchi Focus Lens, an annual computer-based exercise, sources said. Many experts point out that if North Korea worsens the situation with additional nuclear tests or provocative acts, the international community, including the U.S and China, will impose stronger sanctions against North Korea, making the regime venerable to a collapse. Thus, they urge that the government must be prepared for a range of dramatic changes.

“The security situation on the Korea Peninsula has been worsened since North Korea’s nuclear test, and it has also become unpredictable. The government and the military authority must upgrade existing contingency plans for North Korea in case of the worst scenario,” said an official of a military research institute on condition of anonymity.