While the United States, Republic of Korea and Japan speak often about the nuclear missile threat posed by North Korea to all three nations, the former commander of the combined forces on the Korean peninsula said the allies may be missing a very real, but less thought about dangers. “The best way to deliver a nuclear weapon to Seoul” could be “a rickety old wooden airplane,” or a drone or a ship pulling into a nearby harbor.
“You don’t need to have a missile” to launch a nuclear attack, said retired Army Gen. B.B. Bell on Tuesday at the Heritage Foundation.
In his address and in answers to questions from the audience, he called on the U.S. to stop publicly pushing the Korean government to allow the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] ballistic missile defense system on the peninsula and give Seoul time to explain to its people why such a system would be necessary.
“We should respect that,” Bell said.
“We should be giving them some breathing room.”
As to why this is so controversial in Korea, he said it could be a combination of cost, the immediate threat of North Korea’s long-range artillery, fear of worsening relations with China and gorwing to close to Japan, historically an enemy. “Those are all fair issues.”
But at the same time, he said the U.S. should be stepping up pressure on the Chinese to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions and threat. “I will 100 percent guarantee that the Chinese will object to THAAD,” he said.