News

DATE=2/3/97
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-209595
TITLE=PENTAGON / NORTH KOREA (L)
BYLINE=DAVID GOLLUST
DATELINE=PENTAGON CONTENT=
VOICED AT:

INTRO: THE U-S MILITARY'S TOP COMMANDER IN THE PACIFIC REGION SAYS A SUDDEN COLLAPSE OF THE COMMUNIST REGIME IN NORTH KOREA WOULD NOT BE IN THE INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES OR ITS ALLIES. NAVY ADMIRAL JOSEPH PRUEHER SAYS THE SITUATION ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA REMAINS DANGEROUS. V-O-A'S DAVID GOLLUST HAS DETAILS FROM THE PENTAGON.

TEXT: ADMIRAL PRUEHER SAYS NORTH KOREA REMAINS THE BIGGEST POTENTIAL FLASHPOINT IN THE REGION, AND SAYS THE UNITED STATES AND SOUTH KOREA MUST WORK TOGETHER TO PREVENT A SUDDEN, VIOLENT COLLAPSE OF THE REGIME IN PYONGYANG.

IN A TALK WITH REPORTERS HERE, THE ADMIRAL SAID NORTH KOREA COULD NOT PREVAIL IN AN OPEN CONFLICT WITH U-S AND SOUTH KOREAN FORCES.

BUT HE SAID WITH HUNDREDS OF MISSILES AND ARTILLERY AIMED AGAINST THE SOUTH KOREA CAPITAL FROM JUST ACROSS THE DEMILITARIZED ZONE, THE NORTH RETAINS A FORMIDABLE CAPABILITY TO "LASH OUT" AGAINST ITS RIVAL:

// PRUEHER ACT. //

THE THINGS THAT THEY HAVE THAT COULD REALLY WREAK A LOT OF HARM ON SOUTH KOREA -- ON BOTH THE CIVILIAN AND MILITARY POPULATION THERE -- ARE VERY SIMPLE AND EASY TO USE. THEY WILL NOT BE ABLE TO INVADE AND TAKE SOUTH KOREA. BUT THEY CAN WREAK A LOT OF HAVOC AND COST A LOT OF LIVES IF A CONFLICT SHOULD ERUPT THERE.

// END PRUEHER ACT. //

THE ADMIRAL SAID THE TASK FOR U-S AND SOUTH KOREAN POLICY-MAKERS IS TO HANDLE THE CRISIS IN THE NORTH IN A SUCH WAY THAT THE COMMUNIST AUTHORITIES DO NOT FEEL "CORNERED" WITH NO ALTERNATIVE BUT TO STRIKE MILITARILY.

HE SUGGESTED STRONGLY THAT WASHINGTON SHOULD BE RESPONSIVE TO NORTH KOREA'S LATEST APPEAL FOR FOOD AID, THOUGH DECISIONS ON ADDITIONAL HELP SHOULD BE MADE "IN LOCK-STEP" WITH THE SOUTH KOREANS.

THE HAWAII-BASED ADMIRAL -- HERE FOR GLOBAL MILITARY STRATEGY MEETINGS -- SAID CHINA AND JAPAN SHARE THE U-S HOPE THAT CHANGE IN NORTH KOREA OCCURS IN A MEASURED WAY WITHOUT UNLEASHING WAVES OF REFUGEES.

ADMIRAL PRUEHER SAID THE UNITED STATES CLOSELY MONITORS CHINA'S MILITARY MODERNIZATION PROCESS, INCLUDING ITS RECENT DECISION TO ACQUIRE RUSSIAN GUIDED-MISSILE DESTROYERS FOR ITS NAVY.

BUT HE SAID SUCH ACQUISITIONS DO NOT, IN HIS WORDS, "KEEP ME AWAKE AT NIGHT." AND HE SAID IT COULD BE ANOTHER DECADE -- OR TWO -- BEFORE CHINA ATTAINS THE STATUS OF A FULL-SCALE GLOBAL MILITARY POWER. (SIGNED)

NEB / DAG / BD / RRM

03-Feb-97 2:33 PM EST (1933 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America