The Korean Peninsula crisis: Who is to blame?

By ISAAC SANEY*

AN EXTREMELY dangerous situation is developing on the Korean peninsula. Coupled with these ongoing events is the torrent of deliberate disinformation unleashed by the Bush administration, demonizing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) a commonly referred to as North Korea a as paranoid, irrational, mendacious, belligerent and untrustworthy: in short, an imminent threat to world peace. However, when a serious and sober appraisal of the situation is undertaken it becomes quite clear where the danger lies, what is the source of the danger and who is the real threat to peace.

Much has been made of the DPRK reinitiating its nuclear program and supposed “violation” of the 1994 Agreed Framework with the U.S. Indeed, much ink has been spilled on this “open defiance.” But a closer examination reveals how through deliberate misinterpretation and spreading of disinformation a facilitated by the monopoly media a distortion and falsehood parade as facts.

In March 2002, when the U.S. launched the accusations that the DPRK was violating the 1994 agreement, an official representing the team monitoring the agreement stated that: “We challenge anybody who wants to make us believe that the North Koreans didn’t stick to the bargain.” In October 2002, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly declared that North Korean officials had admitted to secretly developing a uranium enrichment program in order to manufacture nuclear weapons. However, the DPRK has vigorously disputed this, asserting that what they actually told Kelly was “they had the right to develop these weapons if they felt threatened, not that they had them” (See “Split With Seoul Complicates U.S. Position Over North Korea,” Wall Street Journal, a January 2003, A6). Furthermore, the Bush administration a mirroring the warmongering propaganda against Iraq a has failed to produce the evidence that it claims to have against the DPRK.

Moreover, the 1994 Agreed Framework involved reciprocal obligations on both parties. In exchange for the DPRK shutting down its nuclear reactors a a significant source of electricity production a and ceasing its nuclear weapons program, the United States was obligated to provide two light water reactors a incapable of being used for weapon production a and institute meaningful measures leading to the normalization of economic and diplomatic relations. Given the grave economic, food and energy crisis that the DPRK has endured since the beginning of the 1990s, the construction of the reactors and an end to the U.S. economic embargo were crucial to the country’s development. In short, the DPRK sought the cessation of Washington’s efforts at economic and political destabilization.

What has transpired since 1994? The reactors have not been built and economic and political relations have not been normalized. Indeed, a cordon sanitaire has been maintained, aimed at undermining the North Korean economy. It is readily apparent that it is the U.S. that has flagrantly and deliberately violated the 1994 Agreed Framework. Furthermore, the Bush administration continues to use food and fuel as a political and economic weapon against the DPRK. Thus, the on-going food and fuel shortages that confront North Korea are a direct consequence of the U.S. deliberate failure to fulfil its responsibilities under the 1994 agreement. Therefore, the reopening of the closed reactors in order to generate electricity was essential to the North Korean economy.

By openly breaching the 1994 agreement and including the DPRK in its so-called “axis of evil,” Washington signalled its aggressive intentions. Indeed, in March 2002 it was exposed that the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review encompassed plans to use nuclear weapons against North Korea. Thus, given this stance by the Pentagon, having seen the massive military preparations against Iraq and the complete disregard by U.S. ruling circles for fundamental norms of international law and diplomacy, the DPRK, if it so chooses, is well within its rights to acquire all available means by which to defend itself. This is only prudent given the U.S. militarization of South Korea and the Korean Truth Commission’s revelations of the numerous war crimes and atrocities committed by the U.S. during the 1950-53 conflict on the peninsula.

At present, 37,000 U.S. soldiers are permanently stationed in the south. South Korea has armed forces that total 650,000 troops and are provided by the U.S. with the latest military hardware. In March 2002, under the rationale of preparing for war with North Korea, the largest military exercise ever held on the Korean peninsula was staged. More than 50,000 U.S. troops and much of the South Korean armed forces were involved in the exercise. Consequently, the call for a non-aggression pact with the U.S. is a well-reasoned, reasonable and just demand. Nevertheless, as the case of Iraq demonstrates, compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions, international law and treaties provides no protection against U.S. military aggression.

Whatever one’s politics, it is apparent that small poor countries either stand up and defend their sovereignty, independence and right to self-determination or surrender to imperial domination. Hence, while it would be an immense benefit for humanity if all nuclear weapons were eliminated, it is clear that the greater danger lies in global nuclear apartheid, where only a select few are allowed to possess these weapons, leaving the peoples of the world open to imperialist thermo-nuclear extortion.

* Halifax People’s Voice, Newsbulletin of the People’s Front – Halifax, 17 January 2003

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