The chief of U.S. forces in Korea said his government is carefully considering a number of diplomatic and military options to tackle contingencies involving North Korea.
Speaking to a group of defense reporters in Washington, General Walter Sharp said the U.S. is looking at a wide range of possible scenarios from large-scale refugee problems caused by food shortage or famine in North Korea to civil unrest generated by a power struggle and even a regime change.
He added that the North appears focused on unconventional strategies such as cyber-warfare, improvised explosives, and missile technology, perhaps fearing a direct confrontation with the U.S. and South Korean forces. Missile technology is considered part of Pyongyang’s unconventional strategy as it was developed to be used as a tool to blackmail other nations, Gen. Sharp said.
The military chief said North Korean leader Kim Jong-il appears to be in "decent health," noting the increased number of his public appearances this year. He said the move seems to be Kim's way of showing his people that he is still very much in charge.
With regards to the succession of power from the 67-year-old leader to his son, the U.S. commander said although there are no direct indications of an immediate transfer of power the 26-year-old son seems to be preparing to eventually succeed his father.
Earlier this year Admiral Timothy Keating, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, also related the U.S. government's development of several scenarios in dealing with contingencies in North Korea.
Such remarks from U.S. authorities appear to be moves to indicate the nation's readiness to act according to any kind of sudden change in the North Korean regime.