Reader Comments

OPLAN 5029: The military's secret plan to secure North Korea's nukes

by Lovie McKerihan (2020-05-13)


As questions swirl around the health status of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the U.S. military contingency plan for the regime's collapse, Operations Plan 5029, is being reviewed with new urgency. 

Little is known about the operational details of the OPLAN 5029, which are highly classified military secrets. 

But in the event of a sudden, calamitous destabilization of the North Korean regime, tour hồ ba bể it would fall to the current commander of USFK, four-star General Robert Bruce Abrams, to ensure that the North's nuclear missiles were not set off during an internal power struggle, or pilfered for the international black market.   






On Friday, after Kim had not been seen publicly for 21 days, North Korean state media published photos (above) and video, which have not been otherwise verified, claiming to show the dictator at a recent function -- but rumors persist about his possible death







in the event of a sudden, calamitous destabilization of the North Korean regime, it would fall to the current commander of USFK, General Robert Bruce Abrams (above), to secure the nukes







RELATED ARTICLES


Previous

1

Next




Has Kim Jong-un had heart surgery? Medical experts say... He's alive (maybe)! North Korean media releases unverified...




Share this article

Share



The existence of OPLAN 5029 was first publicly acknowledged by the U.S. military in 1999.

'It would be unusual if we didn't have one,' General John H. Tilelli Jr, then commander of United States Forces Korea, said of the plan at the time.

OPLAN 5029 is meant to secure the border and North Korea's nuclear weapons if the government can't function or if control of those weapons becomes uncertain.

'The million-dollar question is: When do you invoke the OPLAN and what indicators do you rely on to do so? Because one country's `securing the country´ operation can look to the other nation like an `invasion plan.´ And then all hell can break loose,' said Vipin Narang, a North Korea nuclear specialist at MIT.

The biggest U.S. worry is North Korea's nuclear stockpile being used, stolen or sold.

'If the U.S. does not have plans to go in and secure and retrieve North Korean nukes - to the extent we know where they are - then we are not doing our job,' said Ralph Cossa, president emeritus of the Pacific Forum think tank in Hawaii. 

'Beyond that, it makes little sense for the U.S and/or South Korea to get involved in internal North Korean power struggles.' 






Satellite imagery from March 2019 shows the Sohae Launch Facility in Tongchang-ri, North Korea, one of the facilities used by the North for long-range rocket launches







Suspected nuclear site Sanumdong research center on the outskirts of Pyongyang, North Korea is seen in a February 2019 satellite image







Kim's alleged appearance on state media on Friday (above) was meant to quell rumors that the North Korean leader is dead or incapacitated


The danger of a U.S. misstep during a collapse would be huge. Among the potential problems would be coordinating with South Korea's military at a time when Chinese troops would also likely be operating in the North and funding immense military and humanitarian efforts.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said recently, when asked about Kim´s health, that Washington will continue to pursue complete denuclearization, 'regardless of what transpires inside of North Korea with respect to their leadership.' 

North Korea´s collapse has been predicted - wrongly- for decades.

Some said it would happen after fighting ended in the Korean War in 1953. Others thought it would be during a 1990s famine or when national founder Kim Il Sung died in 1994. And when the death of his son, Kim Jong Il, thrust a little-known 20-something into power in 2011, some felt the end was near.

It's no surprise then that recent rumors that leader Kim Jong Un is seriously ill have led to similar hand-wringing.

On Friday, after Kim had not been seen publicly for 21 days, North Korean state media published photos and video, which have not been otherwise verified, claiming to show the dictator at a recent function -- but rumors persist about his possible death. 

South Korea believes Kim is alive and in control, and most analysts agree that even if he weren't, Kim's powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, would likely take control, possibly with the help of select officials.

Many experts say North Korea would weather the transition just as it has every other upheaval.

But what if it didn't?






Analysts believe if Kim were incapacitated, his powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong (with him above), would likely take control, possibly with the help of select officials














Aside from joint plans with the U.S. military, internal South Korean preparations for a North Korean collapse reportedly deal with how to shelter an influx of refugees and how to set up an emergency administrative headquarters in the North.

According to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables, then senior South Korean presidential adviser Kim Sung-hwan told a top U.S. diplomat in 2009 that South Korea´s constitution states that North Korea is part of South Korean territory and that 'some scholars believe that if the North collapses, some type of `interim entity´ will have to be created to provide local governing and control travel of North Korean citizens.'

When asked recently about contingency plans, South Korea´s Unification Ministry said it 'prepares for all possibilities.'

One big problem is that unlike China, South Korea cannot mobilize the large number of soldiers needed to stabilize North Korea.

'If the North Korean regime is on the brink of collapse, China will most likely send troops to its ally and establish a pro-Beijing regime in the country,' South Korea´s JoongAng Ilbo newspaper said in a recent editorial. 'Seoul must do its best to minimize China´s intervention in the North based on the solid alliance with' Washington. 


China's contingency plan to prevent North Korean collapse
China is the North's main source of aid and diplomatic backing and tour thác bản giốc từ hà nội considers political stability in its impoverished neighbor crucial to its own security.






North Korean soldiers patrol next to the border fence near the town of Sinuiju across from the Chinese border town of Dandong in a file photo


Although China has agreed to United Nations sanctions over the North's weapons programs, it's wary of anything that would collapse the economy or unseat the ruling party and potentially unleash conflict on its border and a flood of refugees crossing over.

China in recent years has reinforced its border defenses with the North. 

However, many people living on the Chinese side of the border are ethnically Korean, increasing fears of instability or even territorial loss if the border was opened.

China's biggest concern, however, is thought to be the prospect of American and South Korean troops operating along its border, a worry that prompted China to enter the Korean War 70 years ago.

A change in leadership in North Korea, however, would be unlikely to bring about major changes to the relationship, said Lu Chao, a professor at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences in China.