|This photo provided by the North Korean government shows a military drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea on Monday, March 9, 2020. AP|
A North Korean artillery attack on South Korea could cause more than 200,000 casualties in one hour, a U.S. think tank report showed Friday.
According to the RAND Corporation, the North maintains nearly 6,000 artillery pieces within range of large population centers in the South, enabling it to carry out a massive attack without using chemical or nuclear weapons.
The report estimated casualty numbers under five attack scenarios, factoring in the approximate number of North Korean artillery weapons, population densities in potential target areas, and assumptions about whether people were outdoors, indoors or below ground at the time of the 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 the U.S. Army's 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 the central capital area.
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; while 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 added. (Yonhap)