Worsening food and fuel shortages in North Korea could cause the collapse of one of the world’s last communist regimes, U.S. officials said Monday.
Although U.S. intelligence officials are reluctant to predict that the Pyongyang government is on the verge of crumbling, American military planners say collapse is likely in the coming months.
The temporary dispatch of North Korean combat troops inside the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas three times this past weekend has revived concerns that Pyongyang could launch an invasion as a last gasp of political control.
Monday, Defense Secretary William Perry condemned the movement of troops into the DMZ that was established in 1953.
“We have continual concern that the government in North Korea might respond in some sort of an irrational way,” Perry said.
Instead of war, U.S. officials say a more likely scenario is an internal collapse of political control in North Korea with thousands fleeing the country for food.
“The consensus today is that there will be an implosion inside North Korea, not an explosion with a military offensive,” a senior Pentagon official said.