An official of the U.S. Department of Defense reported that North Korea may use weapons of mass destruction (WMD), such as nuclear or biochemical weapons, in case of emergencies on the Korean Peninsula, in which case the preparation of the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces will be required.
“North Korea's continued pursuit of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons jeopardizes international stability and weakens the global nonproliferation regime,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Jennifer Walsh stressed in a statement delivered prior to the Tuesday (local time) hearing of the subcommittee on military intelligence and special operations under the House Committee on Armed Services. She claims that it is in violation of the U.N. Security Council’s resolution and a threat to the U.S. forces, as well as other allies and partners.
Walsh who serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security also mentioned the danger of biochemical weapons besides North Korea’s nuclear weapons. “Given the risk that Kim Jong Un could seek to employ WMD in the course of or to stave off a conflict on the Korean Peninsula, the Joint Force must be ready for any number of WMD-related contingencies that require operating in a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) contaminated environment.”
“The Department of Defense is working with South Korea to improve deterrence against chemical and nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula,” said Walsh at the hearing. “We are prioritizing CBRN deterrence capabilities and resources, and equipment upgrade in the U.S. European Command’s jurisdiction and the Korean Peninsula.” She also said that the U.S. Forces Korea is in daily contact with its South Korean counterpart, emphasizing that this issue is clearly on top of the list of concerns and threats.
She also mentioned that North Korea and Russia used chemical weapons to assassinate political opponents in the last few years. It seems that she referred to the case in 2017 when Kim Jong Un killed his half-brother Kim Jong Nam with the toxic substance called VX in Malaysia. She also raised the issue of Chinese businesses and individuals transferring sensitive substances to countries, including North Korea and Iran. “China is relaxed about its export control and multilateral regulations to prevent such transfers,” she criticized.
“China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and other violent extremist groups are quietly increasing their WMD capabilities,” Brandi Vann, the Pentagon’s acting assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs, also said at the hearing on Tuesday. “North Korea is likely to have nuclear and biological weapons, as well as chemical warfare programs,” Special Operations Command’s deputy commander Timothy Szymanski also shared a similar opinion.