Sunday, November 05, 2017
A Pentagon assessment has declared the only way to completely destroy all parts of North Korea's nuclear weapons programme is through a ground invasion.
Mr Dumont said calculating "even the roughest" potential casualty figures would be extremely difficult.
He also gave some detail on what the first hours of a war would involve.
"The only way to 'locate and destroy - with complete certainty - all components of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs' is through a ground invasion," he wrote in response to Congressman Lieu's questions about a potential conflict.
The risks involved included a potential nuclear counter-attack by North Korea while US forces attempted to disable its "deeply buried, underground facilities", he said.
"A classified briefing is the best venue for a detailed discussion," he added.
Rear Admiral Dumont opened his letter with a clear indication that his office supported economic and diplomatic solutions ahead of any military action.
Potential casualties from a conflict depended heavily on the intensity of any attack on South Korea's capital, Seoul, which lies just 35 miles (56 km) from the border, as well as how much advance warning the US and its allies had, he said.
He said a counter-offensive from artillery battery fire and air strikes might help limit casualties. The Joint Chiefs also fear that Pyongyang would use biological weapons in a conflict, despite international conventions banning their use, as well as chemical weapons - which it has never agreed to abandon.
"It likely possesses a [chemical weapons] stockpile," the letter said.
The assessment by military chiefs follows the release of a report from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, which warned that even a brief conflict without the use of banned weapons could cost tens of thousands of lives.
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