No plane, helicopter, for South Korea's Kim assassination unit

By Elizabeth Shim  |  Dec. 6, 2017 at 9:48 AM
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Dec. 6 (UPI) -- South Korea is expected to increase defense spending by 7 percent in 2018, but funds to supply a "Kim Jong Un decapitation unit" with an aircraft and a helicopter may not be available.

The defense budget approved Wednesday was raised to nearly $40 billion, but only about $312,800 will be used to supply reinforcements to the special brigade that could remove Kim from power, in the event of a strike against Seoul, News 1 reported.

That figure is also about 1 percent of the entire South Korean budget going to special units, about $24 million.

Most of the special unit budget is going toward the purchase of soundproof headphones, biometric equipment, fluoroscopes and other technology that are not categorically weapons.

Plans to upgrade the military's CH-47 Chinook helicopters by 2018 are also unconfirmed.

A transport plane for the decapitation brigade and a special helicopter may also no longer be within affordability.

A South Korean defense official who spoke to News 1 said it is likely any funds being allocated toward upgrades will be recorded "at the end of the year."

The relatively small budget for the assassination unit is raising concerns over whether the unit, part of the plan known as the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation will be able to carry out its operations in the event of conflict.

A second defense official told News 1 that even with the "delay" in "supplying a dedicated plane" to the unit, the unit can still be deployed with other aircraft.

The size of the brigade is about 1,000, according to the report.

The defense budget plans come at a time when South Korean President Moon Jae-in continues to stress his position on pre-emptive strikes.

Speaking at a luncheon for South Korean religious leaders, Moon said he "would not tolerate" any pre-emptive strikes on the North, and that he has communicated the policy to the United States, Yonhap reported Wednesday.

Moon also said he is planning to launch dialogues to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue.

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