WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials dealing with North Korea's growing nuclear threat will hold an exercise next month on how to react and anticipate consequences if a crisis develops, government sources said on Tuesday.
The National Defense University, a leading U.S. military education institution under the direction of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has scheduled a "crisis simulation" exercise for July 18.
The classroom exercise is being held at a delicate period as Pyongyang continues to advance its nuclear weapons program and resist calls by the United States and others for the reclusive communist state to return to six-country talks.
Senior U.S. government officials, including members of the U.S. Congress, attend such exercises, which were initiated by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and are held five or six times a year on different topics.
The sessions, each with 16-20 participants, involve classified information and are closed to the public, said university spokesman Dave Thomas.
At the July 18 event "participants will examine the gravity, complexity and difficulty inherent in responding to a series of escalating crises on the Korean peninsula," the notice said.
It would be "a forum to assess the range of policy options available to the United States to stem the proliferation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems by North Korea and to understand the associated consequences of each option."
National Defense University exercises already completed in 2005 have focused on bioterrorism, South Asia and port security.