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. North Korea unveils new war plan focusing on defense: report
SEOUL (AFP) Jan 05, 2005
Stalinist North Korea has set up a new war plan focusing on defense from US attacks and highlighting underground protection facilities, news reports said Wednesday.

The plan, which was issued nationwide last year, urges the Stalinist state to be able to fully mobilize within 24 hours of war breaking out, said Kyunghyang Shinmun, a Seoul-based newspaper.

"The United States is trying to stifle us by manipulating suspicions of nuclear development and stepping up international pressure," the 31-page document unveiled by Kyunghyang said.

The newspaper said North Korea, which is locked in a standoff with the United States over its nuclear weapons drive, may have mapped out the new plan because of the US-led war in Iraq.

The South Korean daily said the plan put high priority on "a defense strategy" rather than the previous offense-oriented war scenario.

The plan was worked out by the National Defense Commission, led by strongman Kim Jong-Il, and urges North Koreans to conduct a three-phase war -- defense, offense and then protracted warfare, it said.

It requires all government offices and military units to set up command posts at underground tunnels across the nation in case of conflict.

North Korea, which has a 1.2 million-strong army, has allegedly built an immense web of underground tunnels since the 1950-1953 Korean War.

Seoul's Yonhap news agency said North Korea has constructed 8,200 underground facilities to house key government offices and military command posts on its soil in case of war.

Some 180 defense industry factories were underground in North Korea, it said.

North Korean media have said the risk of a nuclear war was mounting on the Korean peninsula as the United States attempts to "swallow" it by force.

The North's ruling party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said in a commentary Wednesday North Koreans "will never lay down their arms unless the US abandons its policy of aggression" on the communist state.

The commentary accused the United States of seeking to disarm North Korea "ideologically, morally and militarily and then swallow it up as it did Iraq."

Pyongyang has said it might be a next US war target despite Washington's repeated denials of intentions to topple the communist regime.

"The US 'disarmament' doctrine is a sophism aimed to hamstring and destroy the armed forces of the DPRK (North Korea). And it is a war doctrine intended to make a surprise preemptive attack on the DPRK after gaining the military upperhand," the commentary said.

North Korea and the United States have been engaged in a standoff since October 2002 over Pyongyang's suspected nuclear weapons programme.

Three rounds of six-way talks, including the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, have since then taken place but produced little tangible results.

North Korea boycotted a fourth round of the talks scheduled for Beijing in September to wait out the November US presidential elections, according to many analysts.

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