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U.S. Intelligence: N.K. Leader`s Brother to Take Over

Posted September. 24, 2008 08:59,   


U.S. intelligence says Jang Song Taek, the brother-in-law of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, will take over if Kim falls seriously ill or dies, sources in Seoul and Washington said yesterday.

U.S. intelligence analyzed who will replace Kim and if North Korea can maintain political stability under three scenarios: Kim has physical instead of mental problems; Kim cannot recover consciousness for a long time; and his death. A report on this was sent to the South Korean presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae, National Intelligence Service and other security agencies via the South Korean Embassy in Washington.

One diplomat said, “U.S. intelligence says Kim’s brother-in-law Jang Song Taek and Kim Ok, a senior member of the National Defense Commission who is considered Kim Jong Il’s de facto wife, will take over if Kim Jong Il has only physical disabilities.”

No new leaders will come to power as long as Kim Jong Il is alive even if he cannot recover consciousness for a long time, the report said. Intense competition among political groups is also expected to complicate the process of leadership succession and raise uncertainty.

A group of political leaders could share leadership but Jang, who has close ties with senior military officials, is likely to hold real power if Kim Jong Il dies.

While visiting London, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last Thursday that Washington has closely watched developments in North Korea, and that all of the North’s neighbors are concerned over instability since a collapse could spark a flood of refugees.

Seoul might believe that the U.S. suggestion of three scenarios is evidence that Washington has yet to obtain accurate information on Kim Jong Il’s health. South Korea, however, is expected to consider the three scenarios to prepare itself for contingencies.

The U.S. Congress will summon officials from departments dealing with North Korea and hold a hearing on possible developments and responses if Kim is confirmed to be ill.