S.Korea, U.S. 'Complete N.Korea Contingency Plan'

South Korea and the U.S. have completed an operational plan that envisages military responses to six types of emergencies in North Korea including regime collapse, a government source said Sunday.

The source said the two sides will continue to complement and develop the plan.

In 1999, during the Kim Dae-jung administration, the South Korean and U.S. militaries gave shape to the contingency plan, but it was then billed as a "concept plan" and envisaged five scenarios -- a civil war caused by a transition of power or a coup after North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's death; theft and sale abroad of WMD including nuclear, missile and biochemical weapons, by an insurgent army; a mass exodus; massive natural disaster; and the kidnapping of South Korean citizens.

The plan included no details on troop mobilization and deployment. During the Roh Moo-hyun administration, the two militaries discussed ways to turn it into an "operational plan," but Cheong Wa Dae slammed the brakes on the idea since it feared the plan infringed on South Korea's sovereignty.

But reports that Kim Jong-il suffered a stroke in August last year brought fresh impetus to the plan, and "Operational Plan (OPLAN) 5029" was completed after about a year of consultations.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sunday denied the plan has been completed. "Media reports that OPLAN 5029 has been completed are unfounded. We deeply regret that a secret military operations plan has been reported," it said in a statement.

The U.S. military is apparently most concerned about the threat of North Korean nuclear weapons and technology falling into the hands of an insurgent army and being sold to terrorists abroad.

In a speech at an international conference hosted by the Council on Korea-U.S. Security Studies last Friday, U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp said Seoul and Washington agreed that the USFK would take the initiative to remove WMD from the North and launch Marine assault operations in case of an all-out war, even after the transfer of full operational control of Korean troops to Seoul in April 2012.

The South Korean military will reportedly be in charge in the remaining five scenarios.

The South Korean and U.S. militaries are set to destroy or retrieve WMD in the North by sending elite forces into the North via U.S. nuclear-powered submarines and special warfare transport aircraft and helicopters if there is a possibility of weapons or technology being stolen by insurgents and smuggled overseas, a source said.

englishnews@chosun.com / Nov. 02, 2009 10:25 KST