WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The United States should be prepared to confront a "trans-regional, multi-domain and multi-functional" conflict if war breaks out on the Korean peninsula, the top U.S. military official said Monday.
Speaking at a national security forum at the Center for a New American Security, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said North Korea's development of ballistic missiles, cyber and other capabilities, are posing an unprecedented threat, Yonhap reported.
"If you would have thought about the Korean peninsula some years ago, you would have thought about a conflict that we would have hoped to isolate on the Korean Peninsula. And then as the North Koreans developed ballistic missile capability, well, obviously that's started to affect other regional actors such as Japan," Dunford said.
Dunford added a Korean conflict can no longer be isolated to the peninsula, and that U.S. planning is "not really optimized for that fight," but did not provide additional details.
"As you start to look at intercontinental ballistic technology, cyber capabilities, space capabilities, information operations and so forth, it's pretty hard to see how even a regional conflict would actually be anything other than trans-regional, multi-domain and multi-functional," the U.S. official said.
Earlier in Seoul, South Korea's defense minister had said North Korea is likely to test another submarine-launched ballistic missile and conduct additional nuclear tests in 2016. Han Min-koo also had said that Kim Jong Un is "unpredictable."
North Korea recently sent its all-female Moranbong Band to China, but the group abruptly canceled its weeklong "friendship" tour after a dispute rose between Beijing and Pyongyang.
Chinese analysts have said the cancellation is unlikely to affect bilateral relations, but North Korea recently has pursued a course of action that could irritate Beijing.
South Korean outlet Daily NK reported Monday authorities had arrested 100 ethnic Chinese residents in North Korea on spying charges, and that the Chinese ambassador to Pyongyang has been placed under surveillance.
Daily NK's source said the arrested individuals, unlike the rest of the population, were free to send mail to relatives in China and make phone calls – but their correspondences and calls were under state surveillance.
No specific details on the spying charges were given, the source said, but some of those arrested were charged with acting as a double agent.