Simulation: War on the Korean Peninsula

ByABC News
January 13, 2003, 3:59 PM

Jan. 14 -- Although North Korea has openly defied the United Nations' weapons inspectors and has admitting having a secret nuclear weapons program, the Bush administration has made it clear it has no intention of subjecting the communist nation to the kind of military action it is considering against Iraq.

Critics have asked why war against North Korea is not an option for the United States. A Nightline "war game" in which teams of experts took sides, one team playing the United States, the other North Korea found that military action on the Korean peninsula could quickly escalate into a full-blown war, with North Korean shells and missiles inflicting massive damage on South Korea and the American troops there, possibly forcing the United States to respond with tactical nuclear weapons.

One of the experts predicted a "symphony of death," with hundreds of thousands or even millions of casualties.

Nightline asked two experts to represent the United States military: retired Lt. Gen. Terry Scott, who commanded the Army's 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea in the early 1990s; and Kurt Campbell, who managed the U.S. military's relationship with North and South Korea during the Clinton administration, as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific affairs.

Taking the role of the North Korean regime were two professors at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service: retired Col. Bill Taylor, one of the few Americans to have met with former North Korean President Kim Il-Sung; and Victor Cha, a specialist in Asian affairs who is also an independent consultant to the Department of Defense.

The war game was a simplified exercise intended to sketch out possible scenarios. It did not take into account numerous potentially important factors, including for instance the views of the United States' South Korean or Japanese allies.

U.S. Options: Pinpoint Attacks, Then All-Out War

Nightline first asked Scott and Campbell to present the best military options the United States could use against North Korea.