June 30, 2011 09:19
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's son and heir Jong-un's "youth and inexperience increase the likelihood of miscalculation," the next commander of the U.S. Forces Korea has warned. "These factors make him less predictable in the near term."
Kim junior seems to be trying to "establish credibility with the military hardliners he needs to support [his] succession," Gen. James Thurman added.
Thurman was speaking in a confirmation hearing at the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services on Tuesday. He will lead the USFK and with it the soon-to-be-dismantled Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command.
But until full control of South Korean forces is handed back to Seoul next year, the CFC "must continue readiness preparations to fight and win a war with North Korea and at the same time prepare to deal with the complexity of a regime collapse and the attendant consequences," he said.
Thurman said the North has an inventory of more than 800 ballistic missiles and continues to build intercontinental ballistic missiles.
"North Korea grows closer to threatening the western United States and striking Okinawa, Guam and Alaska," he said. "This missile development program presents a threat which cannot be ignored."
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