U.S. Wargames North Korean Regime Collapse, Invasion to Secure Nukes

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Experts said the U.S. began taking seriously the possibility of a regime collapse in 2008 when the former leader, Kim Jong-il, had a stroke. The concern grew when Kim Jong-il died in 2011 and son Kim Jong Un, who is believed to be 30, took over.

Lind said that though Kim's recent statements have been more frequent and more antagonistic than usual, it would make little sense for North Korea to launch a strike now.

"I don't believe war is coming because North Korea has no rational reason for starting a war which would lead them to no longer exist," Lind said.

"I think the number one mission for the U.S. is to defend South Korea against a North Korea invasion, (and) over time that's gotten less and less plausible," she said. "Second is these collapse scenarios."

"When we think about collapse, we worry about all of that [nuclear material] being flung to the winds and accessed on a global black market," Lind said. "Then of course the nightmare scenario is a terrorist group gets hold of fissile material, or a weapon, or one of the scientists that shows them how to make a nuclear weapon."

Gen. Hix noted that the military is constantly preparing for any crises or scenario it may face in the future, and both he and the other experts agreed that a North Korean collapse is not visibly imminent.

"If we look at various factors, I wouldn't say there's any particular indicator that we should be worried right now, but this could change in a matter of days. We could see a collapse and then be speculating for decades," Lind said.

Baker said that though the probability of a collapse was higher than that of North Korea attacking another country, he expected Kim to continue leading the country, with its economy limping along, in the near future. He said he ultimately expects Kim to begin to open North Korea to the rest of the world.

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