Risk of casualties seen staying US' hand in North Korea
South Korean experts see all-out assault exacting heavy civilian toll
HIROSHI MINEGISHI, Nikkei staff writer
SEOUL -- Even as tensions mount over North Korea, some South Korean media and analysts contend that the U.S. would find it difficult to launch a full-fledged attack on the North, given American estimates indicating that massive civilian casualties would ensue.
"For the U.S. to attack, it would need South Korea's consent and preparation," said former South Korean Unification Minister Kang In-duk, echoing the views of many North Korea experts in the country. "It'd be hard to make the decision."
During the 1994 North Korean nuclear crisis, the administration of then-U.S. President Bill Clinton secretly drew up plans for an airstrike against a North Korean nuclear facility at Yongbyon. It estimated at least 1 million casualties on the Korean Peninsula within the first three months of hostilities.
South Korea news channel YTN reported a similar estimate April 10, putting deaths within the first week in the hundreds of thousands.
South Korean media have cited research by a U.S. foundation in 2013 suggesting that a war on the Korean Peninsula could cause combined military and civilian casualties on a par with World War I. And an American research firm estimated in 2004 that a nuclear strike on Seoul could kill over a million people, a South Korean newspaper said.