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It’s time to end the Korean War March 13, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, North/South Korea, War.
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Roger’s note: it is refreshing to see a columnist in a mainstream publication give a relatively balanced analysis of the situation on the Korean peninsula.  Unfortunately, I don’t expect we are likely to see this kind of reporting in the North Korea demonizing US media.

Forget sanctions against Pyongyang. Until a real peace treaty is signed with North Korea, nothing will be solved.

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Hulton Archive / GETTY IMAGES file photo

The ceasefire of 1953 called for all foreign troops to be withdrawn from the Korean peninsula. The Chinese withdrew, as did the Canadians, British and most other UN forces. But the Americans, at the behest of the South Korean government, stayed.

By: National Affairs, Published on Wed Mar 13 2013

There is a way to defuse the standoff with North Korea. It will not be easy. But short of going to war again in the Korean peninsula, it is probably the only solution.

That solution is to negotiate and sign a real peace treaty with Pyongyang.

The great secret of the Korean War is that it has never ended. An armistice was signed in 1953 to halt the fighting and let belligerents begin talks on a final peace treaty.

But those talks never occurred.

This history — of what happened and what did not happen in 1953 — is crucial for an understanding of North Korea’s almost pathological approach to the world.

It also helps to explain why North Korea announced Monday that it is, in effect, tearing up the armistice.

The ceasefire of 1953 was not a deal between North and South Korea. South Korean president Syngman Rhee refused to sign on.

Rather it was an arrangement signed by commanders of the main military forces at war in the peninsula — the Americans on behalf of the United Nations Command (which included Canadian troops) and the North Koreans on behalf of their own soldiers and so-called Chinese volunteers.

The armistice set the demarcation line between territory controlled by the North Koreans and territory controlled by the UN Command.

That dividing line was supposed to be temporary. The armistice called for negotiations to begin within three months on a comprehensive political settlement for the peninsula.

And it called for all foreign troops — UN and Chinese — to be eventually withdrawn.

The Chinese did withdraw, as did the Canadians, British and most other UN forces. But the Americans, at the behest of the South Korean government they had set up, stayed. They are still there.

In violation of the armistice, the U.S. arbitrarily set the maritime boundary between the two Koreas. Between 1958 and 1991, the U.S. armed its forces in South Korea with nuclear weapons, another violation.

So when Pyongyang says, as it did this week, that the terms of that armistice have been breached by the UN side, it is not entirely inaccurate.

To assign blame for the standoff on the Korean peninsula is a mug’s game. Most historians agree that the Northern troops did invade the South in 1950. But they also agree that both North and South had been conducting raids into one another’s territory during the months before.

During the war, both sides committed unspeakable atrocities. Both lost hundreds of thousands of civilians although, thanks to UN bombing raids, the North lost markedly more.

The North has been a dictatorship since its inception. The South, while a military dictatorship for most of the post-war period, embraced democracy in 1987.

The UN side may have broken the armistice by keeping U.S. troops in the South. But the North broke the ceasefire in even more outrageous ways — from its assassination forays to its 2010 shelling of South Korean civilians.

The real question now is what to do next.

Washington’s insistence that the North give up its nuclear weapons is almost certainly a non-starter. The North’s leaders saw what happened when Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Moammar Ghadafi abandoned their nuclear programs. They are unlikely to make the same mistake.

Sanctions against the North haven’t worked. And even with China agreeing to enforce them, they are unlikely to work in the future. North Korea has proven itself both stubborn and resilient.

Only two choices are left: Reignite the war that never ended or make peace. War against a nuclear-armed North Korea is madness. Peace talks on the basis of the 1953 armistice would surely make more sense.

North Korea has long insisted it wants normal relations with the U.S. and others. Why not call Pyongyang’s bluff?

As a country that, in a roundabout way, was a party to the 1953 armistice, Canada is in a good position to make the case.

Thomas Walkom’s column appears Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Hysteria Over North Korea’s Nukes February 17, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, Foreign Policy, North/South Korea.
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Published on Sunday, February 17, 2013 by EricMargolis.com

by Eric Margolis

Are we about to be vaporized by North Korea’s nuclear weapons? Given all the hysteria this week over its third underground nuclear test, one would certainly think so.

 

North Korean soldiers and civilians in Pyongyang celebrate the success of the country’s third nuclear test. (Photograph: Xinhua/Landov/Barcroft Media)

In reality, we are not about to be nuked by the North’s new boyish leader, Kim Jong-un. But, like many heads of small nations, he really does get a big kick out of making the big boys go crazy.

The late Muammar Qadaffi and Saddam Hussein also used to enjoy this dangerous sport. But unlike young Kim, they didn’t have 4-6 operational nuclear weapons – a lesson not lost on North Korea.

While everyone was fulminating against the wicked North Koreans, there was barely any mention of US-South Korean-Australian war games near North Korea that Pyongyang claimed were training for a US-led invasion. Semi-annual US-led war games almost always cause North Korea to fire missiles and beat the war drums.

What’s clear is that North Korea is making steady progress in developing a smaller nuclear warhead capable of fitting into a nose cone, and developing a new long-ranged missile that may one day be able to strike North America.

However, North Korea’s third nuclear test was less than half the explosive power of the bombs dropped in 1945 on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States.

But Pyongyang’s description of a “smaller and lighter device” set off alarm bells in the Pentagon. Shortly before, in response to new US-led sanctions against North Korea after it launched a satellite into orbit, Pyongyang threatened to target the United States with its missiles.

That, so far, is empty talk. North Korea does not yet have a reliable, accurate ICBM that can threaten the US. It lacks assurance the miniaturized nuclear warheads it is believed developing can withstand the high g-forces and heat of missile flight and re-entry – or that they will detonate.

North Korea’s relatively crude medium and long-ranged missiles are inaccurate and unreliable. Most require hours of liquid fuelling, making them sitting ducks for US pre-emptive attack. The North is also fast using up its supply of bomb-grade nuclear material.

North Korea lacks the ability to inflict a crippling blow on the US mainland. By contrast, the US Pacific 7th Fleet carries enough nuclear weapons to vaporize North Korea in a few minutes.

This latest uproar over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons must be seen in context of the bitter rivalry between North and South Korea. Typical example: in the Demilitarized Zone dividing them, South Korea put its flag on a high tower. The North immediately built a flag tower 50% higher.

North Korea says it is the only authentic Korea; the South, claims Pyongyang, is a US colony garrisoned by 28,000 US troops. In fact, the North greatly fears that the economically powerful South will swallow it up. Neither Japan nor China want to see a united Korea, so they give covert or overt aid to Pyongyang while officially scolding it for nuclear tests.

Meanwhile, the same nuclear powers that denounce North Korea for building a nuclear arsenal are themselves in direct violation of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Under the treaty, the US, Britain, France, the Soviet Union and China all pledged to quickly eliminate all of their nuclear weapons.

They never have.

India, Pakistan and Israel all have built nuclear arsenals. South Korea was on the way to producing nuclear weapons until forced to abandon the secret project by the United States. Japan is estimated to be able to assemble a nuclear device in only 90 days.

In 1994, the Clinton administration and North Korea signed a deal to end the North’s nuclear production in exchange for food and oil. But the deal was derailed in 2002 by neocons in the Bush administration who feared North Korea’s nuclear know-how and missiles might be sold to Israel’s foes in the Mideast. So back the US and North Korea went to their little Cold War.

© 2013 Eric Margolis
Eric Margolis

Columnist and author Eric Margolis is a veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World

 

Comments

 

  • saskatchistani6 hours ago

    The CBC was full of stories about the “threat” from North Korea last week; and no, not on comedy shows such as “This is That,” but on the real, serious news.

    It is funny, in a macabre sort of way, how North Korea, which isn’t about to attack anyone, is given the Public Enemy Number One treatment while Israel, which has a huge nuclear arsenal, and which has attacked every one of its neighbours, is treated as a meek, harmless victim by the media.

  • WJM516 hours ago

    North Korea is a sad, sad place. And the fact that the Korean war has never actually ended doesn’t help things, either. More sanctions are just going to mean more people starved to death and less advancement, if that is possible. It’s time to try something different, because the situation just isn’t going to get any better with the current approach.

    For us to be afraid of a country we could wipe off the face of the planet in less than half an hour is just pathetic. It will, unfortunately, but used to build up even more weaponry and to keep blustering about our safety, and more and more people will actually believe it. And so the insanity continues.

  • WTF?6 hours ago

    Eric’s assessment is spot-on.

    What he forgets to mention is that war-based hysteria minted for domestic consumption is one of the US’ largest exports.

  • SJRyan15 hours ago

    North Korea’s Nukes are a clear and present danger. Question is to what and to who? NK is a material threat to capital invested in SK and those who own it. With reward comes risk. Investment in the Orient has paid handsome returns. Capital has been drawn into the east like Napoleon’s troops were drawn into Russia (same as Hitler’s troops). This is now the winter of capitalist’s discontent. How do plutocrats back away slowly with their money?

    The threat of war is more an issue than war itself. Blackmail is forever. China is at odds with Japan and there is talk of war. Not likely but, the Chinese people have boycotted Japanese goods. Sun Tzu says, ‘the greatest general is the one who wins the war without firing shots’. China has effectively closed its consumer market to Japan.

    How will the US confront an ever more aggressive Chinese navy when the US has so much capital invested in China? The greater threat is financial and not of war itself. What if the Chinese people boycott American products when the sable rattling and bravado peaks. More blackmail.

    China itself is a time-boom. What will happen to capital invested in China, and production, the day 1.3 billion Chinese find out that 1% of Chinese own 70% of China’s wealth and that their revolution has failed? Just how long can China keep information from their people in this age of technology?

    These threats will benefit the middle class in America. As the world becomes a less safe place to invest capital it will return to the safety of US shores.

  • gardenernorcal4 hours ago

    If they wish to pollute their part of the world who are we to stop them. What are we going to do “nuke” them?

  • Shantiananda4 hours ago

    North Korea,I would argue, is a horrible place, but that is not what concerns the war mongers as they could care less about this brutal regime. It could be wiped out overnight. That is a red herring. By making North Korea the axis of evil along with Iran, it is the proverbial boogey man that the international banking 1% and the MIC need to supply their faithless deceit and hypocrisy for the war industry.

    When you hear words like: peace with honor; peaceful deterrent; protecting the homeland; freedom is not free; support the troops; thank you for your service; and so many other Orwellian sound bites….you can be sure there will never be any peace.

The irony and extreme hypocrisy of the U.S. stance toward North Korea What the people of the United States have not been told February 13, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, North/South Korea.
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64481

http://www2.answercoalition.org/site/R?i=2qIicEhjoBid-9fyyblLXg

Want to know more?

Video: North Korea not a threat
RT interview with Brian Becker

Audio: North Korea in the crosshairs
Liberation Radio interview with Brian Becker

Putting the squeeze on North Korea
By Gregory Elich
Originally published by the Centre for Research on Globalization

If you listen to the Obama administration and corporate media propaganda campaign, you’ll learn that North Korea is acting provocatively and aggressively by conducting a nuclear weapons test — but the new propaganda blitz against North Korea is as contrived as Bush and Clinton’s campaign of regime change against Iraq.

It is the United States that is provoking a new crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

The United States possesses the largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world and has been staging massive war exercises along with the South Korean military close to North Korea’s territory in recent days, simulating the invasion and bombing of North Korea. The United States and South Korea have been staging such exercises every few months.

The U.S. government has imposed draconian economic sanctions designed to undermine North Korea’s ability to live.

North Korea was invaded by the United States in 1950 and millions of Koreans died.

Having learned the lesson of the Iraq invasion, the North Korean government decided to resume its nuclear weapons program and prepare for war. But what North Korea really wants is a peace treaty ending the Korean War of 1950-53, an end to economic sanctions and a normalization of relations with the United States.

To learn the truth about the U.S.-North Korean conflict we are providing three important resources in this email:

Please help us expose the lies and distortions spread by the White House, the Pentagon and the corporate media by sharing this via Facebook, Twitter and email.

No New Korean War! November 29, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, Foreign Policy, North/South Korea, War.
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Answer Coalition, November 26, 2010

The Obama administration and its South Korean client government led by the rabidly anti-communist President Kim Myung-bak are blaming the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) for the latest escalation of hostilities in the Korean Peninsula.

But in reality the crisis there is the result of a policy of deliberate provocation by the U.S. and South Korea over the past several months. These provocations are targeting both the DPRK and the People’s Republic of China, countries where the often-concealed but very real aim of U.S. leaders — Democrats and Republicans alike – is “regime change.” They could also lead to a new Korean war, one that could expand to wider regional, and potentially nuclear, conflict.

While hypocritically calling for “calm” in words, Washington is escalating the crisis by its actions. A U.S. naval group led by the nuclear “super-carrier” USS George Washington is on its way to carry out joint military maneuvers with South Korean warships in the Yellow Sea, menacing both China and the DPRK. By moving this huge aircraft carrier into the Yellow Sea the Pentagon and White House are sending a direct, threatening message of escalation since China considers these waters to be part of its sovereign territory.

On November 24, an unnamed “senior administration official” confirmed that the U.S. is escalating pressure on China: “China clearly does not like to see U.S aircraft carriers, for example, in the Yellow Sea.” (NY Times, Nov. 25, 2010)

What’s needed to resolve the crisis

The DPRK wants direct talks with the United States, a formal Peace Treaty ending the Korean War, and a normalization of relations with the United States. This seemed like a realizable goal in the last months of the Bill Clinton administration in 1999 and 2000. George W. Bush scuttled these efforts shortly after taking office in 2001. The Obama administration continued this policy with new sanctions and endless war games simulating the invasion and bombing of North Korea.

The anti-war movement and all progressive people and organizations should stand against any new war, and demand an end to the U.S.-South Korean provocations.

In the latest incident, the North and South Korean armies exchanged artillery fire on November 23. Two South Korean soldiers and two civilians were reported killed and others wounded. Casualties on the North Korean side have not been reported. As in all such previous incidents, U.S. and South Korean leaders condemned the DPRK. But, as even a close reading of the universally anti-North corporate media here reveals, the first shells were fired by the South during military exercises staged in a disputed sea area close to the west coast of North Korea.

The North Korean government stated that it was “reacting to the military provocation of the puppet group with a prompt powerful physical strike,” and accused Seoul of starting the skirmish with its “reckless military provocation as firing dozens of shells inside the territorial waters of the” North.

The roots of the crisis

The western sea border between the North and South is not recognized as legitimate by the DPRK. It was unilaterally created by the United States, using the mantle of the United Nations as a fig leaf and cover for its actions, at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The U.S. and allied forces fought the DPRK under the UN flag, slaughtering millions of Korean people and leveling the northern half of the country by massive bombing. That war further divided a historically unified society into competing states. While an armistice was signed in July 1953, the U.S. has refused the demands of the DPRK to sign a Peace Treaty formally bringing the war to an end.U.S.

“War Games” = Preparation for Real War

In recent years there have been at least three clashes in the same area as the November 23 incident. The DPRK had repeatedly warned South Korea against carrying out the latest “war games” the area. In fact, the term “war games” is a misnomer — these maneuvers should correctly be called dress rehearsals for war. No one knows, moreover, whether any particular military exercises is practice or the real thing, until it is over and done with. This is especially true when the “war games” take place in extremely close proximity to an enemy state.

The U.S. and South Korea annually stage such exercises close to both China and the DPRK. The latest and largest joint drills were held this past summer despite strong protests from both the PRC and DPRK. Those “games,” labeled “Invincible Spirit,” included a simulated invasion of the North.

China’s defense ministry especially objected to the presence of a U.S. aircraft carrier close to its coast. In typical arrogant fashion, a U.S. Defense Department spokesperson responded: “Where we exercise, when we exercise, with whom and how, using what assets and so forth, are determinations made by the U.S. Navy, the Department of Defense, by the United States government.” (Agence France Presse, July 15, 2010)

Imagine for a moment the reaction in Washington if the Chinese navy announced that it was planning to hold similar maneuvers right off-shore of New York or Los Angeles.

The Number 1 Provocation – U.S. Military Presence

The biggest provocation of all is the massive presence of U.S. military bases, troop, nuclear and conventional weapons in the region. In 2010, 65 years after the end of World War II, there are scores of U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine bases in Korea, Okinawa, and all across Japan. The U.S. has provided high tech weaponry of all kinds to Taiwan. Trident submarines, each of which can launch hundreds of nuclear warheads, and nuclear-armed aircraft carriers prowl the eastern Pacific round-the-clock.

This vast deployment of military power halfway around the world far exceeds that of any other country. It and the tens of billions of dollars it burns up every year is justified to the people here as being for “defensive purposes.” But that is just another Big Lie.

The real purpose of this monstrous military machine is to secure and further the interests of the U.S. corporate power and strategic domination in Asia and around the world. It is the enemy of the people of Korea, China, Japan and the people of the United States.

Up, Up and Away: The West’s Hysterical Reaction to North Korea April 18, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, Foreign Policy, North/South Korea.
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Posted on Apr 17, 2009, www.truthdig.com








AP photo / Ahn Young-joon

South Koreans watch a TV news program on the launch of a North Korean missile.


By Scott Ritter


Six minutes before 1 o’clock in the afternoon, on Jan. 23, a 173-foot-tall, two-stage rocket lifted off from Northeast Asia. Capable of carrying a giant 33,000-pound payload, the rocket’s liquid-fuel engine, supplemented by two solid-fuel strap-on booster rockets, generated nearly half a million pounds of thrust before giving way to the second stage, likewise powered by a liquid-fuel engine. After reaching a height of nearly 430 miles, the rocket released into orbit a 3,850-pound satellite, along with seven smaller probes. Other than the small community of scientists interested in the data expected to be collected from the “Ibuki” Greenhouse Gases Observatory Satellite (GOSAT), the rocket’s main payload, very few people around the world took notice of the launch. The United Nations Security Council did not meet in an emergency session to denounce the launch, nor did it craft a package of punitive economic sanctions in response. 


The reason? The rocket in question, the H-2A, was launched by Japan, at its Tanegashima Space Launch Facility. Deemed an exclusively civilian program, the H-2A has been launched 15 times since its inaugural mission on Aug. 29, 2001. Four of these launches have been in support of exclusively military missions, delivering spy satellites into orbit over North Korea. Although capable of delivering a modern nuclear warhead to intercontinental ranges, the H-2A is seen as a “non-threatening” system since its liquid-fueled engines require a lengthy fueling process prior to launching, precluding any quick-launch capability deemed essential for a military application.







In contrast, on April 5, at 11:30 in the morning, North Korea launched a three-stage rocket called “Unha,” or “Milky Way,” which it claimed was carrying a single small communications satellite weighing a few hundred pounds. Like the H-2A, the “Unha,” better known in the West as the Taepodong-2, is liquid-fueled, requiring weeks of preliminary preparation before launch. Although North Korea declared the vehicle to be intended for launching a satellite, the launch was condemned even before it occurred as “dangerous” and “provocative,” unlike Japan’s similar efforts.


The Taepodong-2 launch was the second attempt by the North Koreans to get this particular design airborne. In 2006, the first effort ended in failure when the rocket exploded some 40 seconds after liftoff. The second launch, by all accounts (except North Korea’s, which announced that its satellite was successfully orbiting the Earth, broadcasting patriotic music), was likewise a failure. The first stage, based on a Chinese design derived from the CSS-2 missile, seemed to function as intended, given the fact that it splashed down in the Sea of Japan in the area expected. However, the second stage, together with the smaller solid-fuel third stage designed to boost the satellite into orbit, fell several hundred miles short of its anticipated impact area, indicating a failure of the second stage to perform properly and, ultimately, launch the satellite. Western hysteria, which labeled the North Korean rocket a direct threat to the western United States, prompting calls for the missile to be shot down, proved unfounded.


In October 2006, in response to North Korea’s announcement that it had conducted an underground test of a nuclear weapon, the Security Council of the United Nations passed Resolution 1718. This resolution, passed under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, condemned the North Korean nuclear weapon test and called for the imposition of economic sanctions until North Korea’s nuclear weapons program was dismantled and its nuclear program as a whole reintegrated into the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. It also singled out North Korea’s ballistic missile programs, demanding that Pyongyang “not conduct any further … launch of a ballistic missile” and “suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program and in this context re-establish its pre-existing commitments to a moratorium on missile launching” and “abandon all other existing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programme in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.” 


The April 5 launch was widely condemned by the United States and others (including Japan, which assumed a leading role in framing the North Korean test as “destabilizing” and “dangerous”). President Barack Obama characterized the North Korean launch as a violation of Security Council resolutions and pushed for the council to punish Pyongyang. However, not everyone shared the sentiments of the United States and Japan. Both Russia and China questioned whether the launch was in fact a violation of Resolution 1718, noting that North Korea had every right to launch satellites. The best the United States and Japan could get from the U.N. Security Council was a statement issued by the council president condemning the launch as a “contravention” of Security Council Resolution 1718 and demanding that North Korea “comply fully” with its obligations under the resolution. The statement also demanded that North Korea not shoot off any more rockets or missiles.


Thus it appears that the United Nations Security Council, and not North Korea, is acting in a manner inconsistent with international law. On March 5, 2009, North Korea notified Russia that it was joining the 1966 Outer Space Treaty. Russia is one of three depository states for that treaty (the other two being the United States and the United Kingdom), and North Korea’s announcement made the commitment binding. At the same time, North Korea informed the U.N. secretary-general that it was joining the 1974 Convention on Registration of Objects Launched Into Outer Space. The Outer Space Treaty proclaims “the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind,” and that “outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States.” North Korea’s joining the 1974 convention, while not mandatory, put it in compliance with the established practices of other nations having space launch programs, including Iran, which signed the treaty back in 1967, and which on Feb. 2, 2008, successfully launched a satellite on board its two-stage Safir-2 (“Ambassador”) vehicle. While the United States and others strongly criticized the Iranian action, Russia noted that Iran had not violated international law. The same holds true of the North Korean launch.


A major problem confronting President Obama and others who fear that North Korean and Iranian launches are merely a cover for the development of technologies useful for military ballistic missile programs is that, unlike in the nuclear field, where the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (NPT) seeks to control nuclear weapon technologies and activities within a framework of binding international law, there is no corresponding treaty vehicle concerning ballistic missiles. In 1991, the U.N. Security Council did impose restrictions on ballistic missile technology for Iraq in the aftermath of the Gulf War, but this was a case-specific action which, in defining its mandate, had to turn not to an existing body of binding international law-based definitions, but rather to a voluntary arrangement known as the Missile Technology Control Regime [MTCR], brought into being in 1987. Today the MTCR consists of 34 members, all of which have agreed to abide by a regime that controls the availability of missile-related technology to nonmember states. But the MTCR does not carry with it the force of law, and has become politicized over the years through the inconsistent application of its mandate to the point that it is viewed by many nonsignatory nations as sustaining the military advantage of the member nations.


While both North Korea and Iran have come under strong international criticism and sanctions for their respective nuclear and missile activities, it should be noted that neither nation has acted in a manner which violates international law. North Korea withdrew from the NPT prior to testing its nuclear weapon, and Iran’s nuclear enrichment program operates with full transparency and in keeping with its obligations under the NPT. As signatories to the 1966 Outer Space Treaty, both nations are legally permitted to pursue space launch activity, and the MTCR does not ban ballistic missile development, but rather merely prevents signatory nations from providing such technology to nonsignatory nations. But the lack of international outrage and demands for sanctions against nations such as Israel, Pakistan and India (all of which possess nuclear weapons programs operating outside the NPT, as well as military ballistic missile programs designed to deliver these nuclear weapons) undermines the legitimacy of the current attention on North Korea and Iran. 


On the day North Korea launched its “Unha” vehicle, President Obama delivered a speech in Prague, the Czech Republic, which was hastily redrafted to take the North Korean action into account. “North Korea broke the rules,” Obama said. “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.” These bold statements were made at the same time the president was calling for a global abolition of nuclear weapons and a strengthened NPT as “a basis for cooperation,” one which would require “more resources and authority to strengthen international inspections” and deliver “real and immediate consequences for countries caught breaking the rules or trying to leave the treaty without cause.” The president outlined a valid (if vague) course of action concerning nuclear weapons, but having linked nuclear weapons with ballistic missile delivery vehicles, he remained conspicuously mute on how he envisioned containing and controlling that threat. 


Expansion of the MTCR is not a viable option, although in its most recent plenary session the MTCR underscored the importance of the regime working closely with the United Nations to follow through on measures put in place under Security Council Resolution 1540, passed in 2004 under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter. Those measures require all states to “establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of such weapons and means of delivery, in particular for terrorist purposes, including by establishing appropriate controls over related materials, and adopt legislative measures in that respect.” The resolution specifically said that none of its obligations should be interpreted “so as to conflict with or alter the rights and obligations of State parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention or alter the responsibilities of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).” This reflects the reality that there is established, binding international agreement on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. There is no such agreement on ballistic missiles.


This is the missing link in Obama’s call for a nuclear-free world. It will be difficult enough to convince entrenched domestic special interests, both economic and political, that we would be safer without nuclear weapons. It will be impossible to sell such a program internationally unless it is coupled with a similar undertaking involving the very missiles and related technology the MTCR seeks to restrict. Such a restriction cannot be limited to those nations which do not currently possess such technology, but rather must be binding on all nations. While the world was focused on the launch of the North Korean missile, almost unmentioned was the testing of an SS-25 intercontinental missile by Russia on April 10. This missile, designed and equipped to deliver a single 500-kiloton nuclear warhead, flew 6,000 miles before hitting its designated target area (the warhead used was a dummy). And what about February’s test launch of a U.S. Navy D-5 ballistic missile from a Trident submarine? This missile flew some 4,000 miles and was equipped with multiple warheads. There was hardly any mention of the test of a U.S. Minuteman III missile in July 2006, made six days after the U.S. orchestrated Security Council condemnation of North Korea’s failed launch of a Taepodong-2 space launch vehicle. India, Pakistan and Israel have all conducted recent tests of their respective nuclear-capable ballistic missile arsenals. If the world is going to be serious about getting rid of nuclear weapons, then it must also address the issue of eliminating those delivery vehicles which provide the most viable vector for nuclear attack—ballistic missiles.


Combining the goals and intent of the MTCR with the 1966 Outer Space Treaty would be a good place to start. Banning ballistic missiles yet maintaining space launch capability are not mutually exclusive objectives. The technologies might be similar, but the employment methodologies are not. Military ballistic missiles are deployed in secrecy and rapidly prepared for launch. Space launch vehicles are operated in full transparency, on declared schedules with announced objectives. If the list of technologies currently controlled by the MTCR was expanded to include all technologies associated with missile launch activity, and access to such technologies made conditional on their use in declared, carefully monitored space launchings controlled by a binding international treaty, it would be possible to rid the world of the scourge of global nuclear attack by not only removing the nuclear weapons but also the most effective means of their delivery. Obama and others who criticize North Korea and Iran would do well to reflect on such a possibility the next time they embark on the ineffective and hypocritical path of assailing those who simply seek to acquire what we already have—whether it be nuclear weapons, nuclear technology, ballistic missiles or space launch capability.







Scott Ritter was a U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998 and a U.S. Marine intelligence officer. He is author of “Target Iran” (Nation Books, 2006) and the forthcoming “On Dangerous Ground: Following the Path of America’s Failed Arms Control Policy,” also published by Nation Books. 

US Hypocrisy on North Korea: Let’s Talk About Israel’s Nukes April 6, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
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by Jeremy Scahill

President Obama’s administration is pressing for diplomatic retaliation, perhaps in the form of more sanctions against North Korea, after Pyonyang launched a rocket into space. There are conflicting reports about the success of the launch. North Korea says the rocket carried a satellite, which is now orbiting the earth. That’s according to state-run media in North Korea, which reportedly broadcast patriotic songs and images of Kim Jung Il, praising him for the launch. The US, meanwhile, said the launch failed to reach orbit, landing in the Pacific Ocean. According to The New York Times, “Officials and analysts in Seoul said the North’s rocket, identified by American officials as a Taepodong-2, flew at least 2,000 miles, doubling the range of an earlier rocket it tested in 1998 and boosting its potential to fire a long-range missile.”

There is disagreement at the Security Council over whether North Korea violated any UN resolutions with the US on one side and Russia, backed by China, on the other. The Obama administration has called the launch a “provocative act.” “We think that what was launched is not the issue; the fact that there was a launch using ballistic missile technology is itself a clear violation,” said UN ambassador Susan Rice, who is pressing for more sanctions against North Korea at the Security Council. Chinese officials said North Korea, like other nations, had a right to launch satellites. “Every state has the right to the peaceful use of outer space,” said Russia’s deputy U.N. envoy, Igor N. Shcherbak.

Obama used the launch in his major address in Prague, which has been characterized as an anti-nuclear speech. “Rules must be binding,” he said of North Korea’s launch. “Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.”

Many countries around the world certainly see hypocrisy in the Obama administration’s position on North Korea. Israel has repeatedly been condemned by the UN for its occupation of Palestinian lands. Moreover, it has hundreds of nuclear weapons with estimates ranging from 200-400 warheads. What’s more, Israel and the US are in league with North Korea in the small club of nations that have refused to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Other nations include: China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, and Pakistan. In his Prague speech, Obama said his administration “will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification,” saying, “After more than five decades of talks, it is time for the testing of nuclear weapons to finally be banned.”

All of this must be kept in context as the “crisis” with North Korea continues to unfold. US hypocrisy on the nuclear issue takes away credibility the US has in its condemnations of North Korea, or Iran, for that matter. “Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran’s neighbors and our allies,” Obama said in Prague. Obama used Iran to justify a controverisal central European missile system, saying, “As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward… with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven.” Obama did not mention Israel once in his speech and has never acknowledged its nuclear weapons system. Perhaps Obama should ask Arab and Muslim nations in the region what country they see as the biggest nuclear threat.

And this historical fact, which to Obama’s credit he acknowledged, should never be forgotten: One nation in the world has used nuclear weapons-the United States.

In a statement, Peace Action, cautiously welcomed some of Obama’s positions outlined in Prague, but said, “President Obama’s statement that [a nuclear weapons-free] world might not be achieved in his lifetime is very disappointing.  Obama can and should announce the initiation of negotiations on the global elimination of nuclear weapons.  Similarly, his promotion of nuclear power, missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic and his escalation of troops in Afghanistan are all moves in the wrong direction.”

Pentagon’s nuclear weapons theory bombs March 8, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Foreign Policy, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
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Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun, March 8, 2009

As the U.S. economy sank ever lower, a huge brouhaha erupted this week over claims that Iran might have nuclear weapons.

The new CIA director, Leon Panetta, said “there is no question, they (Iran) are seeking that capability.” The Pentagon chief, Admiral Mike Mullen, claimed Iran had “enough fissile material to build a bomb.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had claimed Iran posed an “absolutely unacceptable threat.” However, to Harper’s credit, he just admitted that Afghanistan is a no-win war.

While Rome burns, here we go again with renewed hysteria over MWMD’s — Muslim weapons of mass destruction. War drums are again beating over Iran.

The czar of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, Admiral Dennis Blair, stated Iran could have enough enriched uranium for one atomic weapon by 2010-15. But he reaffirmed the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate that Iran does not have nuclear weapons and is not pursuing them. Defence Secretary William Gates backed up Blair.

Public confusion over Iran comes from misunderstanding nuclear enrichment and lurid scare stories.

Iran is producing low-grade uranium-235 (LEU U-235), enriched to only 2.5%, to generate electricity. Tehran has this absolute right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Its centrifuge enrichment process at Nantaz is under 24-hour international inspection. Iran’s soon-to-open nuclear plant at Bushehr cannot produce nuclear weapons fuel.

Today, some 15 nations produce LEU U-235, including Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France, and Japan. Israel, India and Pakistan, all nuclear weapons powers, refused to sign the non-proliferation treaty. North Korea abrogated it.

UN inspectors report Iran has produced 1,010 kg of 2% to 3% enriched uranium for energy generation. Theoretically that is enough for one atomic bomb.

Costly process

But to make a nuclear weapon, U-235 must be enriched to over 90% in an elaborate, costly process. Iran is not doing so, say UN inspectors.

Highly enriched U-235 or plutonium must then be milled and shaped into a perfect ball or cylinder. Any surface imperfections will prevent achieving critical mass. Next, high explosive lenses must surround the core and detonate at precisely the same millisecond. In some cases, a stream of neutrons must be pumped into the device as it explodes.

This process is highly complex. Nuclear weapons cannot be deemed reliable unless they are tested. North Korea recently detonated a device that fizzled. Iran has never built or tested a nuclear weapon. Experts believe Israel and South Africa jointly tested a nuclear weapon in 1979.

Even if Iran had the capability to fashion a complex nuclear weapon, it would be useless without delivery. Iran’s sole medium-range delivery system is its unreliable, inaccurate, 1,500-km ranged Shahab-3. Miniaturizing and hardening nuclear warheads capable of flying atop a Shahab missile is another complex technological challenge.

It is inconceivable that Iran or anyone else would launch a single nuclear weapon. What if it didn’t go off? Imagine the embarrassment and the retaliation. Iran would need at least 10 warheads and a reliable delivery system to be a credible nuclear power.

Israel, the primary target for any Iranian nuclear strike, has an indestructible triad of air, missile and sea-launched nuclear weapons. An Israeli submarine with nuclear cruise missiles is on station off Iran’s coast.

Off the map

Iran would be wiped off the map by even a few of Israel’s 200 nuclear weapons. Iran is no likelier to use a nuke against its Gulf neighbours. The explosion would blanket Iran with radioactive dust and sand.

Much of the uproar over Iran’s so far nonexistent nuclear weapons must be seen as part of efforts by Israel’s American partisans to thwart President Barack Obama’s proposed opening to Tehran, and to keep pushing the U.S. to attack Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. They and many Israeli experts insist Iran has secret weapons programs that threaten Israel’s existence.

The hawkish Hillary Clinton’s naming of veteran Israel supporter Dennis Ross as her new legate to Iran adds to the confusion over administration policy towards Iran. Who is in charge of foreign policy? What’s the plan?

Condoleezza Rice: I Expect Obama to Continue Bush’s Foreign Policy December 21, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Foreign Policy.
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r-obama-bush-foreign-policy-huge

Rice says Obama likely to follow Bush on foreign policy

www.huffingtonpost.com

Daniel Dombey in Washington

Published: December 21 2008

Barack Obama might have little option but to follow George W. Bush’s approach on a range of foreign policy issues, including Iran, said Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state.

Ms Rice told the Financial Times the new administration was likely to follow Mr Bush’s lead in the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme. During the president’s second term, the US has co-ordinated its approach with the European Union, Russia and China.

“When I talk to our allies they believe that that is the structure with which this is ultimately going to be resolved,” Ms Rice said, while acknowledging that the Obama administration would generally “do things in their own way”.

She said: “The reason why there might be some elements of continuity is that what we’ve tried to do is to arrange or organise international groupings that can first manage and then resolve these very difficult problems in a multilateral way.” She was referring not just to the administration’s efforts over Iran but also its approach to North Korea and the Israel-Palestinian issue.

Ms Rice’s words could damp expectations that the incoming administration will represent a complete break with its predecessor on foreign policy.

They also highlight the obstacles facing the new team as it seeks breakthroughs for problems the Bush administration has failed to resolve. In an echo of the current administration’s rhetoric, Mr Obama promises to use carrots and sticks to push Iran to rein in its nuclear programme.

But in spite of a sustained sanctions drive by the US and its allies and an offer of talks, Iran has stepped up uranium enrichment and is widely reckoned to be moving closer to nuclear weapons capability.

While Mr Obama has promised a radically different approach to the outgoing administration on issues such as climate change, and Guantanamo Bay, many of his cabinet picks are centrists who have won praise from Republicans.

Although Ms Rice has described herself as “especially proud” of Mr Obama’s election as the first African American president, she consistently declines to say for whom she voted.

Ms Rice expressed concern over the expected appointment of a series of special envoys for world hotspots, saying it was important not to cut ambassadors and diplomats out of the loop.

 

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