Defense Secretary James Mattis has warned that the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea is risking “the end of its regime and the destruction of its people,” if it did not stop developing nuclear weapons.
The Pentagon has prepared a plan involving a B-1B heavy bomber attack against the DPRK which is ready should President Trump, as Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, decide to order an attack, NBC News reported.
B-1 bomber planes have carried out a series of 11 practice runs on the Korean peninsula near the DPRK's border, in coordination with South Korean and Japanese forces since the end of May. Four of the drills have involved practice bombing with live rounds. The most recent test run took place on Monday.
The six B-1 bombers currently stationed at Guam would be supported by drones, satellites, and fighter jets in a potential bombing mission.
According to two U.S. military sources which spoke to NBC, U.S. intelligence has identified at least two dozen targets in the DPRK, which they say consist of missile launch sites, testing grounds, storage facilities and support equipment.
The DPRK recently announced that it was making plans to launch a missile into waters miles from the U.S. occupied territory of Guam, which is where the U.S.'s B-1 bombers are stationed.
In a statement on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that the Department of State is “making every effort” to resolve the crisis diplomatically, however, emphasized the that the U.S. has the “most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth.”
Mattis warned that the DPRK is risking “the end of its regime and the destruction of its people,” if it did not stop developing nuclear weapons.
“If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing,” General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces commander said.
One U.S. military official speaking to NBC spoke of the concern that a pre-emptive attack against the DPRK would result in a response that could put the people in South Korea at risk.
“The use of the B-1 bombers to actually drop bombs and destroy Korean infrastructure and kill North Koreans would cause an escalation. Kim Jong Un would be compelled to respond. He would lash out militarily, at a minimum against South Korea,” Admiral Stavridis said to NBC.
The last conflict between the U.S. and the DPRK, known in the U.S. as the "Korean War," resulted in massive infrastructure damage in North Korea, and the death of nearly a third of their population.