Inside the Ring
By Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough
THE WASHINGTON TIMES - 18 July 2003
A military source tells us that Kim Jong-il, the brutal strongman of North Korea, spent time in hiding during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The source said Mr. Kim suspects he is next in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. He moved from bunker to bunker for 40 days until apparently deciding he wasn't next — at least not now. North Korea is one of President Bush's two remaining axis-of-evil states — Iraq is off the list; Iran remains on it.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Pacific Command and the Joint Chiefs of Staff planning arm continue routine updates of the war plan for North Korea. Mr. Kim's state propaganda machine has made a series of threatening statements in recent months. It claims North Korea has nuclear weapons now and will make more.
Our source says the North Koreans are also vowing to test the weapons and sell them to other rogue nations. Iran, which is aggressively seeking nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles to deliver them, depends on North Korea's know-how.
The U.S. war plan calls for taking out, piece by piece, North Korea's vast artillery arsenal along the South Korean border's demilitarized zone. The North's war plan calls for an unprecedented artillery barrage into Seoul as hundreds of thousands of ground forces invade the South.
The U.S. can immediately put two fighter air wings in operation from Japan and South Korea, quickly reinforced by aircraft from the carrier USS Kitty Hawk in Japan and another Air Force wing in Alaska. PacCom already has written the air tasking orders (ATOs) and frequently updates the bombing missions.
Later this year, the B-2 Stealth bomber fleet will start getting more firepower. The highly effective bombers now carry 16 2,000-pound bombs. They are to be reconfigured for an arsenal of 80 500-pound bombs, meaning they can hit five times as many targets on one sortie.
China missile tests
China has conducted two recent flight tests of its new short-range missile known as the CSS-7, according to U.S. officials.
The latter test took place over the past weekend, and the first one earlier this month — both in a remote area of northern China's Gobi Desert not far from Mongolia, we are told.
The CSS-7 is one of two Chinese short-range missiles being deployed in large numbers within striking distance of Taiwan, in a buildup that the Pentagon has called destabilizing.
The Pentagon's annual report on communist Chinese military power, due to be made public in the next few weeks, notes that China now has about 450 CSS-7 and CSS-6 missiles near Taiwan. The figure represents an increase of 100 missiles since last year's report.