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N.K. artillery attack on S. Korea could cause more than 200,000 casualties: U.S. think tank

All News 06:47 August 08, 2020

By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean artillery attack on South Korea could cause more than 200,000 casualties in an hour, a U.S. think tank report showed Friday.

According to the RAND Corporation, North Korea maintains nearly 6,000 artillery systems within range of large South Korean population centers, enabling it to carry out massive attacks without using chemical or nuclear weapons.

The report estimated casualty numbers under five attack scenarios, factoring in the approximate number of North Korean artillery systems, population densities in potential target areas, and assumptions about whether people are outdoors, indoors or below ground at the time of attack.

A one-hour strike, using 5,700 long- and medium-range artillery pieces, along the entire length of the Demilitarized Zone, would hit all major population centers, including Seoul and Incheon, as well as U.S. Army base Camp Casey, resulting in as many as 205,600 casualties, the report said.

The other scenarios were a five-minute attack against a major industrial target, a one-minute attack along the DMZ, a one-minute attack against downtown Seoul and a one-hour attack against downtown Seoul.

The minimum number of casualties was estimated at around 4,500 in a one-minute strike along the DMZ.

"A key insight from the five scenarios presented is that the supreme challenge for the ROK, the United States, and their allies is avoiding a situation in which the DPRK feels compelled to strike the South with its conventional artillery; if the DPRK did initiate such a strike, the objective of the ROK, the United States, and their allies should be to stop the shelling while avoiding further escalation," the report says.

ROK stands for South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea; DPRK stands for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"(It) is in the interests of all actors concerned to deescalate as quickly as possible once a provocation cycle
starts and avoid the conditions that would lead to a military exchange in firepower from any of the sides. If such an exchange occurs, the results will be highly costly and bloody," the report adds.

This photo released on March 21, 2020, by the Rodong Sinmun, the North's official newspaper, shows North Korean soldiers engaging in an artillery fire drill held a day earlier. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr
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