- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2005

SEOUL — The United States would dispatch 690,000 troops and 2,000 warplanes if war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, according to a South Korean defense policy paper released yesterday.

The brief revealed South Korean efforts to redefine its 50-year-old stalemate with the communist North and readjust its alliance with the United States.

The commitment of U.S. troops in the event of war appears aimed at easing concerns that Washington is using U.S. troops in South Korea as a rapid deployment force, which could create a vacuum in the world’s last remaining Cold War flash point.

“The reinforcement plan reflects a strong U.S. commitment to defending South Korea,” the South Korean memo said.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Greg Hicks said he could not speak to the specific numbers in the report, but said the size of any U.S. deployment in the event of a Korean conflict would depend on the nature of the conflict.

The U.S. military total force strength worldwide is about 3 million, according to the Department of Defense.

Washington and its allies have been trying to end the North’s nuclear weapons programs through multinational disarmament talks.

North Korea, already armed with large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, is resisting U.S. pressure to give up its nuclear weapons programs. Three rounds of six-nation talks aimed at ending the programs produced no breakthroughs.

North Korea, which accuses the United States and South Korea of preparing to invade over its nuclear weapons programs, has added more artillery pieces and missiles to its Korean People’s Army, already the world’s fifth largest, it said. The number of North Korean troops remained unchanged at 1.17 million.

Later yesterday, North Korea’s state-run media quoted a military officer promising severe retaliation if war breaks out.

“If the U.S. imperialists ignite flames of war, we will first of all strike all bases of U.S. imperialist aggressors and turn them into a sea of fire,” North Korea’s Central Radio quoted officer Hur Ryong as saying, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap.

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