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Ex CIA Korea Chief: Seoul Worried US May Target North Korea in Preventive Strike

© AP Photo / Ahn Young-joonProtesters hold a cutout of US President Donald Trump and images of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and US missile defense system THAAD, right, on a map of Korean Peninsula during a rally against US deployment of the aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula, near the US embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, April 13, 2017
Protesters hold a cutout of US President Donald Trump and images of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and US missile defense system THAAD, right, on a map of Korean Peninsula during a rally against US deployment of the aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula, near the US embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, April 13, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Although the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics may promise at least some peace, Seoul officials are concerned about the US possibly preparing a strike on North Korea. Even if it is limited, or pre-emptive, the repercussions may be overwhelming for the Korean peninsula at large.

Bruce Klingner, former chief of the CIA Korea division and now senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at the Washington-based conservative Heritage Foundation, reportedly heard firsthand accounts of senior South Korean officials. He said they unanimously think that even a limited strike would certainly ignite a massive retaliation from North Koreans, CNBC reported.

"Seoul has very strong concerns about the potential for a US 'preventive attack' on North Korea," he said.

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"Some are suggesting that the US is thinking of hitting two or three targets, and that North Korea would likely respond proportionately," Klingner said. "Not the all-out artillery barrage on Seoul." A larger response is also possible, he thinks, since there were multiple new reports on the regime’s strong complaints about across-the-board US-South Korean joint military drills. 

READ MORE: US May Be Preparing Preemptive Strike Against North Korean Nuclear Sites

For instance, the upcoming war games, called Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, are due to kick off after the Olympics and involve American and South Korean ships, tanks and aircraft. Separately, more than 230,000 combined troops are expected to partake.

What adds still further to the anxiety among Koreans, is the recent  "nuclear button" rhetoric voiced by  Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump as well as reports on the so-called "bloody nose" strike  being allegedly prepared by the White House.

Notably, many critics have pointed to the fact that the mixed messages coming from the United States are really misleading: Trump last year chipped in to the debate over North Korea by asking Rex Tillerson "to save his energy", in response to the Secretary of State’s voiced concern that "the threat is growing."

Another issue on the table is what China would do if the US were to conduct a strike against North Korea. Beijing might join efforts with North Korea if Washington launched a pre-emptive attack, last year’s editorial in China's semi-official Global Times newspaper suggested.

READ MORE: Four Russian Female Ice Hockey Players Not Invited to Take Part in Olympics

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