Posted by rogerhollander in History, North/South Korea, Nuclear weapons/power, Trump, Uncategorized, War.
Tags: curtis lemay, Jimmy Carter, Kim Jong-un, korean war, mike whitney, north korea, nuclear weapons, pyongyang, roger hollander
Roger’s note: I am old enough to remember that the Korean War is not officially a war, but rather a “police action.” And that the police action that was really a war is still not over, there is only a cease-fire that has been in place since 1953, with the United States not interested in a permanent peace treaty with North Korea.
The article below is written by an American but from the North Korean point of view, not an easy task and one that most Americans are unwilling to even consider. We have been brainwashed (and I mean that literally) to believe that the United States is a world power only for the purpose of maintaining peace (that’s a joke), democracy (joke two) and stability (I’m running out of jokes).
Even many of those who are serious critics of U.S. foreign policy are of the opinion that the U.S. government “makes mistakes” as opposed to committing crimes. One needs to step back, as a citizen of the world and as a human being, to see that the United States of America is a criminal empire bent on world domination for the sake of its military establishment and its giant corporations.
In the last few days, as Trump has escalated the bellicose rhetoric towards North Korea, which some are beginning to compare to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and in light of the launching of 59 missiles into Syria, and not to mention that Trump is a certifiable sociopath; I cannot help but thinking that petitions, and traditional marches, and electing Democrats to Congress may not be enough to save ourselves from actual annihilation.
I picture tens of millions of American taking direct action in Washington and all other American cities, surrounding the White House, the Capital, the Pentagon, government offices, the offices of Congress members, etc.
By whatever means necessary. SNL aside, Trump is no joke.
By Mike Whitney
Photo by Stefan Krasowski
Washington has never made any effort to conceal its contempt for North Korea. In the 64 years since the war ended, the US has done everything in its power to punish, humiliate and inflict pain on the Communist country. Washington has subjected the DPRK to starvation, prevented its government from accessing foreign capital and markets, strangled its economy with crippling economic sanctions, and installed lethal missile systems and military bases on their doorstep.
Negotiations aren’t possible because Washington refuses to sit down with a country which it sees as its inferior. Instead, the US has strong-armed China to do its bidding by using their diplomats as interlocutors who are expected to convey Washington’s ultimatums as threateningly as possible. The hope, of course, is that Pyongyang will cave in to Uncle Sam’s bullying and do what they are told.
But the North has never succumbed to US intimidation and there’s no sign that it will. Instead, they have developed a small arsenal of nuclear weapons to defend themselves in the event that the US tries to assert its dominance by launching another war.
There’s no country in the world that needs nuclear weapons more than North Korea. Brainwashed Americans, who get their news from FOX or CNN, may differ on this point, but if a hostile nation deployed carrier strike-groups off the coast of California while conducting massive war games on the Mexican border (with the express intention of scaring the shit out of people) then they might see things differently. They might see the value of having a few nuclear weapons to deter that hostile nation from doing something really stupid.
And let’s be honest, the only reason Kim Jong Un hasn’t joined Saddam and Gadhafi in the great hereafter, is because (a)– The North does not sit on an ocean of oil, and (b)– The North has the capacity to reduce Seoul, Okinawa and Tokyo into smoldering debris-fields. Absent Kim’s WMDs, Pyongyang would have faced a preemptive attack long ago and Kim would have faced a fate similar to Gadhafi’s. Nuclear weapons are the only known antidote to US adventurism.
The American people –whose grasp of history does not extend beyond the events of 9-11 — have no idea of the way the US fights its wars or the horrific carnage and destruction it unleashed on the North. Here’s a short refresher that helps clarify why the North is still wary of the US more than 60 years after the armistice was signed. The excerpt is from an article titled “Americans have forgotten what we did to North Korea”, at Vox World:
“In the early 1950s, during the Korean War, the US dropped more bombs on North Korea than it had dropped in the entire Pacific theater during World War II. This carpet bombing, which included 32,000 tons of napalm, often deliberately targeted civilian as well as military targets, devastating the country far beyond what was necessary to fight the war. Whole cities were destroyed, with many thousands of innocent civilians killed and many more left homeless and hungry….
According to US journalist Blaine Harden: “Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — 20 percent of the population,” Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, told the Office of Air Force History in 1984. Dean Rusk, a supporter of the war and later secretary of state, said the United States bombed “everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another.” After running low on urban targets, U.S. bombers destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the later stages of the war, flooding farmland and destroying crops……
“On January 3 at 10:30 AM an armada of 82 flying fortresses loosed their death-dealing load on the city of Pyongyang …Hundreds of tons of bombs and incendiary compound were simultaneously dropped throughout the city, causing annihilating fires, the transatlantic barbarians bombed the city with delayed-action high-explosive bombs which exploded at intervals for a whole day making it impossible for the people to come out onto the streets. The entire city has now been burning, enveloped in flames, for two days. By the second day, 7,812 civilians houses had been burnt down. The Americans were well aware that there were no military targets left in Pyongyang…
The number of inhabitants of Pyongyang killed by bomb splinters, burnt alive and suffocated by smoke is incalculable…Some 50,000 inhabitants remain in the city which before the war had a population of 500,000.” (“Americans have forgotten what we did to North Korea“, Vox World)
The United States killed over 2 million people in a country that posed no threat to US national security. Like Vietnam, the Korean War was just another muscle-flexing exercise the US periodically engages in whenever it gets bored or needs some far-flung location to try out its new weapons systems. The US had nothing to gain in its aggression on the Korean peninsula, it was mix of imperial overreach and pure unalloyed viciousness the likes of which we’ve seen many times in the past. According to the Asia-Pacific Journal:
“By the fall of 1952, there were no effective targets left for US planes to hit. Every significant town, city and industrial area in North Korea had already been bombed. In the spring of 1953, the Air Force targeted irrigation dams on the Yalu River, both to destroy the North Korean rice crop and to pressure the Chinese, who would have to supply more food aid to the North. Five reservoirs were hit, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, inundating whole towns and laying waste to the essential food source for millions of North Koreans.10 Only emergency assistance from China, the USSR, and other socialist countries prevented widespread famine.” (“The Destruction and Reconstruction of North Korea, 1950 – 1960”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Japan Focus)
Repeat: “Reservoirs, irrigation dams, rice crops, hydroelectric dams, population centers” all napalmed, all carpet bombed, all razed to the ground. Nothing was spared. If it moved it was shot, if it didn’t move, it was bombed. The US couldn’t win, so they turned the country into an uninhabitable wastelands. “Let them starve. Let them freeze.. Let them eat weeds and roots and rodents to survive. Let them sleep in the ditches and find shelter in the rubble. What do we care? We’re the greatest country on earth. God bless America.”
This is how Washington does business, and it hasn’t changed since the Seventh Cavalry wiped out 150 men, women and children at Wounded Knee more than century ago. The Lakota Sioux at Pine Ridge got the same basic treatment as the North Koreans, or the Vietnamese, or the Nicaraguans, or the Iraqis and on and on and on and on. Anyone else who gets in Uncle Sam’s way, winds up in a world of hurt. End of story.
The savagery of America’s war against the North left an indelible mark on the psyche of the people. Whatever the cost, the North cannot allow a similar scenario to take place in the future. Whatever the cost, they must be prepared to defend themselves. If that means nukes, then so be it. Self preservation is the top priority.
Is there a way to end this pointless standoff between Pyongyang and Washington, a way to mend fences and build trust?
Of course there is. The US just needs to start treating the DPRK with respect and follow through on their promises. What promises?
The promise to build the North two light-water reactors to provide heat and light to their people in exchange for an end to its nuclear weapons program. You won’t read about this deal in the media because the media is just the propaganda wing of the Pentagon. They have no interest in promoting peaceful solutions. Their stock-in-trade is war, war and more war.
The North wants the US to honor its obligations under the 1994 Agreed Framework. That’s it. Just keep up your end of the goddamn deal. How hard can that be? Here’s how Jimmy Carter summed it up in a Washington Post op-ed (November 24, 2010):
“…in September 2005, an agreement … reaffirmed the basic premises of the 1994 accord. (The Agreed Framework) Its text included denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a pledge of non-aggression by the United States and steps to evolve a permanent peace agreement to replace the U.S.-North Korean-Chinese cease-fire that has been in effect since July 1953. Unfortunately, no substantive progress has been made since 2005…
“This past July I was invited to return to Pyongyang to secure the release of an American, Aijalon Gomes, with the proviso that my visit would last long enough for substantive talks with top North Korean officials. They spelled out in detail their desire to develop a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and a permanent cease-fire, based on the 1994 agreements and the terms adopted by the six powers in September 2005….
“North Korean officials have given the same message to other recent American visitors and have permitted access by nuclear experts to an advanced facility for purifying uranium. The same officials had made it clear to me that this array of centrifuges would be ‘on the table’ for discussions with the United States, although uranium purification – a very slow process – was not covered in the 1994 agreements.
“Pyongyang has sent a consistent message that during direct talks with the United States, it is ready to conclude an agreement to end its nuclear programs, put them all under IAEA inspection and conclude a permanent peace treaty to replace the ‘temporary’ cease-fire of 1953. We should consider responding to this offer. The unfortunate alternative is for North Koreans to take whatever actions they consider necessary to defend themselves from what they claim to fear most: a military attack supported by the United States, along with efforts to change the political regime.”
(“North Korea’s consistent message to the U.S.”, President Jimmy Carter, Washington Post)
Most people think the problem lies with North Korea, but it doesn’t. The problem lies with the United States; it’s unwillingness to negotiate an end to the war, its unwillingness to provide basic security guarantees to the North, its unwillingness to even sit down with the people who –through Washington’s own stubborn ignorance– are now developing long-range ballistic missiles that will be capable of hitting American cities.
How dumb is that?
The Trump team is sticking with a policy that has failed for 63 years and which clearly undermines US national security by putting American citizens directly at risk. AND FOR WHAT?
To preserve the image of “tough guy”, to convince people that the US doesn’t negotiate with weaker countries, to prove to the world that “whatever the US says, goes”? Is that it? Is image more important than a potential nuclear disaster?
Relations with the North can be normalized, economic ties can be strengthened, trust can be restored, and the nuclear threat can be defused. The situation with the North does not have to be a crisis, it can be fixed. It just takes a change in policy, a bit of give-and-take, and leaders that genuinely want peace more than war.
Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, History, North/South Korea, Nuclear weapons/power, Peace, War.
Tags: david swanson, dprk, history, korean war, north korea, north korea nuclear, sony hacking, south korea military
Roger’s note: the Korean War (excuse me, police action) has never ended. There has been an armistice since the early 1950s, but the US has always refused to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea. The US government needs its demons (the infamous “axis of evil”) more than it wants genuine peace. The demonization of a grotesque and cartoon like North Korea, via a complicit corporate media, is deeply embedded in the consciousness of most Americans.
Campaign created by David Swanson,
The U.S. should negotiate with North Korea on its proposal to cancel nuclear tests in exchange for a U.S. suspension of joint military exercises with South Korea
Why is this important?
The DPRK government (North Korea) disclosed on Jan. 10, 2015, that it had delivered to the United States the day before an important proposal to “create a peaceful climate on the Korean Peninsula.”
This year, we observe the 70th anniversary of the tragic division of Korea in 1945. The U.S. government played a major role in the arbitrary division of the country, as well as in the horrific Korean civil war of 1950-53, wreaking catastrophic devastation on North Korea, with millions of Korean deaths as well as the deaths of 50,000 American soldiers. It is hard to believe that the U.S. still keeps nearly 30,000 troops in South Korea today, even though the Armistice Agreement was signed back in 1953.
According to KCNA, the North Korean news agency, the DPRK’s message stated that if the United States “contribute(s) to easing tension on the Korean Peninsula by temporarily suspending joint military exercises in South Korea and its vicinity this year,” then “the DPRK is ready to take such responsive steps as temporarily suspending the nuclear test over which the U.S. is concerned.”
Unfortunately, it is reported that the U.S. State Department rejected the offer on Jan. 10, claiming that the two issues are separate. Such a quick spurning of the North’s proposal is not only arrogant but also violates one of the basic principles of the U.N. Charter, which requires of its members to “settle their international disputes by peaceful means.” (Article 2 ). To reduce the dangerous military tensions on the Korean Peninsula today, it is urgent that the two hostile States engage in mutual dialogue and negotiation for a peaceful settlement of the lingering Korean War, without any preconditions.
The North’s proposal comes at a time of increasing tensions between the U.S. and DPRK over a Sony film, which depicts a brutal CIA-induced assassination of the current North Korean leader. In spite of the growing doubts by many security experts, the Obama administration hastily blamed the North for last November’s hacking of the Sony Pictures’ computer system and subsequently imposed new sanctions on the country. Pyongyang proposed a joint investigation, denying its responsibility for the cyber-attacks.
The winter U.S.-R.O.K. (South Korea) war drill usually takes place in late Feb. DPRK put its troops on high military alert on such occasions in the past and conducted its own war drills in response. Pyongyang regards the large-scale joint war drills as a U.S. rehearsal for military attacks, including nuclear strikes, against North Korea. In the last year’s drill, the U.S. flew in B-2 stealth bombers, which can drop nuclear bombs, from the U.S. mainland, as well as bringing in U.S. troops from abroad. In fact, these threatening moves not only provoke the North but also violate the Korean War Armistice Agreement of 1953.
Instead of intensifying further sanctions and military pressures against the DPRK, the Obama administration should accept the recent offer from the North in good faith, and engage in negotiations to reach positive agreements to reduce military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
John Kim, Veterans for Peace, Korea Peace Campaign Project, Coordinator
Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, NY
Dr. Helen Caldicott
David Swanson, World Beyond War
Valerie Heinonen, o.s.u.,Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk for Justice and Peace, U.S. Province
David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Alfred L. Marder,U.S. Peace Council
David Hartsough, Peaceworkers, San Francisco, CA
Coleen Rowley, retired FBI agent/legal counsel and peace activist
John D. Baldwin
Arnie Saiki, Coordinator Moana Nui
Regina Birchem, Women’s International League for Peace and Justice, US
Rosalie Sylen, Code Pink, Long Island, Suffolk Peace Network
Helen Jaccard, Veterans For Peace Nuclear Abolition Working Group, Co-chair
Heinrich Buecker, Coop Anti-War Cafe Berlin
Sung-Hee Choi, Gangjeong village international team, Korea
1) NYT, 1/10/2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/world/asia/north-korea-offers-us-deal-to-halt-nuclear-test-.html?_r=0
2) KCNA, 1/10/2015
3) Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, “Strategic Patience with North Korea,” 11/21/2013, http://www.thediplomat/2013/11/strategic-patience-with-North-Korea.
Posted by rogerhollander in North/South Korea, Peace, War.
Tags: answer coaliton, history, korea armistice, korea truce, korean war, roger hollander
Roger’s note: I was born in January 1941, and my first memories have to do with the fears engendered by the “enemies” we were fighting in WWII, especially the “Yellow Japs.” Only a few years after the relief from the victory over the Axis, new fears arose about the spreading danger of Communism, and the U.S. was at war again in Korea. I can remember reading headlines in which the number of “Communists” were killed in a given battle, as if every North Korean solder was a card-carrying Communist threat to my liberty. I don’t remember reading anything about civilian casualties. I think few Americans are aware that the Korean War never ended, that, as the article below shows, an armistice was signed to end hostilities, but that the United States has refused to enter into a peace treaty to officially end the war. The U.S. government and media demonize the North Koreans, but is is the U.S. that has refused to normalize relations and which continues with a huge military presence in the Korean Peninsula.
60 years after the Armistice Agreement, demands for a Peace Treaty ring through Washington
August 1, 2013
July 27 marked the 60th anniversary of the date on which the United States signed an Armistice Agreement to temporarily halt its war of aggression on the people of Korea. But to this day, the U.S. government refuses to sign a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War. Thus, the two sides are technically still at war, and the war continues in a very real way on a daily basis.
The United States still has tens of thousands of troops occupying the peninsula and militarizing the false border between North and South Korea. Sanctions and an economic blockade are maintained against North Korea, and are combined with threats of military aggression in addition to war games that simulate invasion and bombing, all while North Korea is depicted as the aggressor.
For the past 60 years, Korean American and U.S. anti-war organizations have joined the demands of the people in North and South Korea for peace and reunification.
To mark this important anniversary, the National Campaign to End the Korean War called for a “Korea Peace Weekend” on July 26-27 in Washington, D.C., which included a rally and march, film showing, strategy meeting and Congressional visits.
People calling for an end to the Korean War traveled from across the country – from California and Oregon to New York and New Jersey to the Washington/Maryland/Virginia area – to converge in Washington, D.C. The gathering came at the same time as an official ceremony held by the U.S. Department of Defense at which President Obama spoke and declared the Korean War to be a victory for the U.S. government.
The morning of the official ceremony, July 27, activists stood on the corner of Constitution Avenue and 17th Street, holding signs and banners, and loudly chanting as President Obama’s motorcade drove by. Chanting “Peace Treaty Now – End the Korean War,” they then marched to the White House, where they held a rally followed by a picket on the White House sidewalk.
That evening, they held the D.C. premier of the new film “Memory of Forgotten War” from award-winning filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem and Ramsay Liem, professor emeritus at Boston College. This powerful new documentary follows the stories of four Korean Americans who witnessed firsthand the war’s devastation and its aftermath.
The film was followed by a Q&A with co-director Ramsay Liem and a panel featuring Stephen McNeil from the American Friends Service Committee, Sarah Sloan from the ANSWER Coalition and Hyuk-Kyo Suh from the National Association of Korean Americans.
All of the organizations involved in the activities vowed to continue their struggle until the U.S. government signs a peace treaty and ends all aspects of its war on the Korean peninsula.
Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, North/South Korea, War.
Tags: history, korea, korea armistice, korea ceasefire, korea history, korea nuclear, korea peace treaty, korea sanctions, korea truce, korean war, north korea, roger hollander, south korea, thomas walkom
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.
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.
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?
Thomas Walkom’s column appears Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, Foreign Policy, North/South Korea.
Tags: eric margolis, Kim Jong-un, korea missiles, korea nuclear, north korea, roger hollander, war hysteria
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, North/South Korea.
Tags: answer coalition, brian becker, gregory elich, korea peace treaty, korean war, north korea, north korea governemnt, north korea nuclear, north korea sanctions, roger hollander
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.
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Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, Foreign Policy, North/South Korea, War.
Tags: answer coalition, dprk, Kim Myung-bak, korea, korea armistice, korea peace treaty, korean war, north korea, obama administration, roger hollander, south korea, uss george washington, war, war games
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.
Posted by rogerhollander in Foreign Policy, History, North/South Korea, War.
Tags: 38th parallel, atomic bomb, harry truman, jay janson, korean civil war, korean police action, korean war, north korea history, north korea nuclear, north korea nuclear capacity, noth korea, Obama, obama promise, rhee, roger hollander
www.opednews.com, May 27, 2009
North Korea again in the news.
Ominously, President Obama has promised “action” after denouncing North Korea’s underground nuclear explosion on May 26th. This follows Obama’s recent successful call for increased UN sanctions after North Korea’s space rocket launch – which apparently sent the wrong message with counterproductive effect – that is, unless Obama wanted North Korea to feel threatened.
Scary, because it should be of frighteningly serious concern that yet another nation comes to have nuclear weapon technology that could possibly be transferred to, or fall in the hands of terrorists seeking homicidal vengeance for the America,s predatory hegemony over the poorer and vulnerable nations of the world.
Where is this new diplomacy of open communication with enemy nations the electorate was promised and commercial media keeps announcing?
Shall we not best ponder whether the North Korean insistence that its tests of weaponry are intended enhance its defensive strength in the face of US threats could be based on its perception of reality.
On November 30, 1950, President Truman at a press conference, remarked that the use of the atomic bomb was under active consideration. Koreans heard this as menacingly foreboding apocalypse, for U.S. forces were in retreat and had suffered some serious losses subsequent to China sending ‘volunteer’ forces to help the North Koreans defend as U.S. forces neared the Chinese border some 45 days earlier.
Originally, the civil war had been over, the North having won quickly and easily when the U.S. invaded, subsequently punishing Korea with millions of casualties.
North Korea was bombed to rubble by the U.S. which also leveled almost every town in South Korea to prevent the overthrow of the U.S. sponsored Rhee dictatorship (Rhee was forced to flee the country a few years after the war anyway).
The period immediately before the war was marked by escalating border conflicts at the 38th Parallel and attempts to negotiate elections for the entirety of Korea. The years befpre had seen rebellions in the South, one occasioning a terrible massacre of 30,000 on Cheju Island far off the southern tip of South Korea, under U.S. occupation. Koreans, both North and South, are well aware of this turbulent history that predates the North’s successful invasion
Not many years ago, the president of a civilian government in South
Korea apologized to its people for the massacres that happened there even years after the U.S. ‘police action’ was over.
The Clinton administration expressed regret to Koreans for the massacres of civilians by U.S. troops, which South Koreans were finally permitted to talk about.
But no American president has seen fit to apologize for similar massacres which occurred as the US conquered North Korea. The United States apologizing to an announced ‘enemy’ in today’s climate of empire would be unheard of, especially within conglomerate owned war promoting media. After all, whatever damage done to an designated enemy must be advantageous. Our United States is not about to apologize for what we did to Korea or any other country even before it was designated an enemy. President Wilson signed on to the Japanese occupation of Korea and Truman’s divided Korea in two, once the Japanese surrendered.
Heartlessly, most political leaders in the world dominating industrialized nations insist that the death a couple of million Koreans was worth preventing a unified Korea under communist government. Communist Russia eventually evaporated, and communist, in name only, China and Vietnam are now welcomed trading partners. A permitted communist Korea might have just as likely evolved into an acceptable near capitalist society as well.
North Koreans have the memory of the most brutal of bombings, protracted war, the U.S. invasion which included UN documented massacres, the further devastation incurred in expelling the U.S. Army and Navy with the aid of the Chinese, plus threats of atomic bombing and terrifying cautions and warnings of U.S. bacteriological warfare.
North Koreans, have also experienced terrible suffering during the postwar rebuilding of their scorched land while under duress of strict U.S. sanctions. Progressives in the West attribute some of the responsibility for the severity of the government in the North, and the lack of freedom of its people, to the effects of the merciless and vindictive foreign policy of the U.S., which has kept tens of thousands of troops near its border all these years, while decrying the North’s massive buildup of its military.
Of course all this is justified in U.S. commercial media with an American shrug of the shoulders and, ‘The North attacked the South first,’ and the North was a communist dictatorship. It still is, but a lot more intense about the strength of its military.
Russia and China are for finding a solution in the six party negotiations. Obama is again for increasing punishment, while certainly knowing that this is merely heating up the confrontation between the massive American Empire and a diminutive, by comparison, North Korea, once pulverized by U.S. air power.
Seems like candidate Obama’s promise of talking to one’s ‘enemies’ is being replaced by threats and punishments, rather openly in the case of North Korea, and Iran, while setting stern preconditions for lifting the economic blockade on Cuba.
North Korea is going to a lot of expense to acquire nuclear capability. Is it possible that America has fueled this paranoid impulse with its past threat to nuke North Korea, and its subsequent efforts to isolate and vilify its government as Evil.
Note: For further background on North Korea’s perhaps understandable fears or dangerous paranoia see articles below:
More than 100,000 massacred by allies during Korean War, Telegraph Co.,UK, by Richard Spencer in Seoul, 29 Dec 2008
“More than 100,000 South Korean civilians were massacred by allied troops fighting alongside Britain and the US in the Korean War, an official investigation has revealed.
Obama Calls on U.N. to Punish North Korea Over Rocket, but WHO PUNISHES THE U.S.? April 6, 2009, OpEdNews
Commercial media feeding frenzy on the space missile launch by North Korea at the same time whipping up fear of Iran. Obama has harsh words for North Korea, as earlier for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Venezuela and Iran, which received a kind invite to talk mixed in with such severe public criticism as to make the invitation unacceptable. So far, Obama, both as president and as commander-in-chief belies change to serious diplomacy.
April 17, 2009, OpEdNew
On the Need for Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in America
“In 2005, in keeping with its maturation as a constitutional democracy, the South Korean National Assembly established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to seek to “reveal the truth behind civilian massacres during the Korean War and human rights abuses during the [South Korean] authoritarian period and recent evidence of U.S. and South Korean responsibility for the massacre of civilians before and during the Korean War.”
Feb. 27, 2008, OpEdNews
NY Phil Plays in a Korea Once Destroyed by U.S. Invasion, Flattened by U.S. Bombers
“Beautiful telecast. Koreans interviewed spoke of avowed resolve to protect their country,they knew Americans were their enemies, spoke softly, politely, with calm pleasant countenance. Americans can go on thinking they were good guys doing good. But they might like to remember that ‘good’ was done in Korea, to Koreans, all of whom were not in agreement that it was for their own good. Picasso’s Cheju Massacre Painting sobering”
Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, Foreign Policy, North/South Korea.
Tags: ballistic missile, Barack Obama, barack obama china india intelligence iran israel japan law media military north korea npt nuclear nukes obama pakistan ritter russia security south korea wmd, china, India, intelligence, Iran, israel, japan, law, Media, military, missile, non-proliferation, north korea, npt, nuclear, nukes, outer space treaty, pakistan, ritter, roger hollander, russia, security, security council, south korea, UN Charter, wmd
|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.