NKorea transition clouds Asia security outlook

By Eric Talmadge

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Dec. 23 2011 12:50 a.m. MST

FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2010 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's son Kim Jong Un attends a massive military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea. At the tender age of 27, give or take a year or two, Kim Jong Un is poised to become the world's youngest commander in chief. Kim Jong Un presents the U.S. and its allies with an even more unknown character than his recently deceased father - and the strategic challenge of dealing with an inexperienced twenty-something who sits on a nuclear arms program, a stash of chemical weapons and the world's fourth-largest army.

Vincent Yu, File, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's newly minted leader presents the U.S. and its allies with a strategic challenge: how to deal with an inexperienced young man who sits on a nuclear arms program, a stash of chemical weapons and the world's fourth-largest army.

Kim Jong Un is poised to become the world's youngest commander in chief. With virtually no track record, he will be learning on the job. From a military perspective, that makes him a huge wild card.

While the transition could offer an opportunity for positive change, this week's announcement of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's death immediately set off alarms in situation rooms from Seoul to Washington. Troops around the region are on heightened alert.

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