'No Pre-Emptive Strike Planned on N.Korea's Nuke Test Site'

The chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff weighed into speculation about North Korea's imminent nuclear test on Wednesday, guessing that the North is preparing to test a "pre-hydrogen" nuclear weapon.

Gen. Jung Seung-jo made the guess in a report to the National Assembly's Defense Committee on Wednesday.

The weapon could be a "boosted fission weapon," a type of nuclear bomb that uses a small amount of fusion fuel to increase the yield of a fission reaction, he said.

This could make it possible to drastically reduce the size and weight of nuclear weapons to less than one ton, small enough to fit a nuclear warhead on a missile.

"When you develop nuclear weapons, you have such a goal in mind," Jung said. "I think the North has made a lot of progress in that regard."

He warned that South Korea will launch a pre-emptive strike "if there's a clear sign of the enemy using a nuclear weapon" but no such attack is planned on the nuclear test site in Pyunggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province.

"We may change our mind if the situation changes," he added.

Defense Committee chairman Yoo Seung-min said, "Are you sticking to your guns even if a pre-emptive strike on the North's nuclear weapons will lead to a full-scale war?" Jung replied, "It would be better to destroy the North's nuclear weapons first than to be struck by them, given that that would lead to a war in any case."

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 07, 2013 09:25 KST