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Secret North Korean military manual reveals siege mentality; report

AFP | April 8 2005

A confidential North Korean military manual obtained by a newspaper here provides a rare insight into the siege mentality gripping the isolated communist state and leader Kim Jong-Il's fears for his own security and the loyalty of his million-strong army.

The manual written for general level officers and above says the United States is mounting a covert campaign to bribe North Korean officers to turn against their leader.

A similar plan worked in Iraq where Saddam Hussein's troops refused to fight the US invaders, according to the 39-page document, published in 2004, and obtained by the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper.

"Saddam's 100,000 republic guards, especially the Medina Division, had boasted about their loyalty to him but abandoned the president when the tide of the war started turning against them," it said.

"After succeeding in its operation of bribery in Iraq, the United States has been trying to use the same tactic toward us. The main targets of such bribery tactics are our military officers."

The document also claimed that the US Central Intelligence Agency has told the Pentagon to hit North Korea's military leadership instead of its nuclear facilities as the target of military operations against Pyongyang.

"The enemies consider the removal of our highest leadership as the quickest way to destroy our country," the booklet said.

It said that the US agencies had stepped up intelligence gathering in North Korea, focusing among other things on security arrangements protecting Kim.

"The United States and its running dogs have been creating new intelligence bodies for terror attacks and infiltrating spies and terrorists into our country."

"They continue with a smearing campaign against the heart of revolution and make utmost efforts to gather secrets concerning operations to protect the leadership."

The document said leader Kim, who is supreme commander of the army, the fifth largest in the world, warned the troops not to lower their guard at a time when "the enemies are frantically staging operations aimed at the heart of revolution," a term used in North Korea to designate the leader himself.

Experts in Seoul said the military manual, which they said was apparently authentic, confirmed the siege mentality in North Korea amid a stand-off over its nuclear weapons programmes.

"When an unmanned US aircraft bombed a vehicle transporting the Taliban leadership during the Afghanistan war, the North Korean secret service went into a panic," a South Korean intelligence official was quoted as saying.

North Koreans were also spooked by the war in Iraq and reinforced Kim's security after Saddam's capture in December 2003, he added.

"North Korean power elites' shock and frustration at the fall of Saddam are evident in many passages of the document," said Jeung Young-Tai, a researcher with the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification.

"It appears to urge its soldiers to remain loyal to Kim Jong-Il, but it smacks of the leadership's fear of losing internal control," he said.