Centre for Research on Globalisation
Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation

Peace on the Korean Peninsula is Essential to Global Peace

by Karen Talbot

Text of Speech delivered at the World Peace Conference, Seoul, Republic of Korea, June 16, 2003 
www.globalresearch.ca    12  July 2003

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/TAL307B.html

These days, perilous events are moving at warp speed, fueled by the new policies of military preemption and first-use of nuclear weapons proclaimed by the U.S. Bush administration. Just as we get mobilized to try to respond to one crisis, new crises are upon us. We are reminded of the famous story of the Alittle Dutch [email protected] who used his finger to plug the hole in a dike to prevent it from collapsing. And we hope that, collectively, we have enough fingers to plug the holes in the dike protecting us from nuclear conflagration. More importantly, we are striving to shore up the dike, and even to begin building a new dike upon the secure underpinnings of international law and the democratic will of Awe the [email protected] of our planet.

Indeed, the greatest hope for international peace and security does lie with a united and vast movement of the poor, workers, oppressed, disenfranchised, and peace-loving multitudes who constitute what the New York Times characterized as "the other superpower."

Now, we participants in this burgeoning movement are faced with a new task in efforts for global peace and justice one that we must not fail to carry out. That is to prevent the launching of a new war against the Democratic People=s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and to set in stone permanent peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula. We need to stand unflinchingly with the Korean people in fully realizing the fruits of the North-South Declaration of June 15, 2000, concluded between President Kim Dae Jung of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and President Kim Jong Il of the DPRK.

The Korean people have such a glorious and proud history and culture. They live in a beautiful land. But they also have the sad misfortune of residing on a strategic peninsula, which is positioned like a dagger at China and at the vastness of Russia. Thus, it is a land historically trampled over by conquerors, colonial powers, occupation forces, and empires. Unfortunately, that reality still prevails today when the weapons of war can destroy the peace of the entire planet.

The Korean Peninsula has run red with the blood of millions. In the war, unleashed in the early 1950s by the United States, 4 million Koreans were killed. Countless civilians were the victims of atrocities carried out by U.S. soldiers, including in South Korea, such as the massacre at No Gun Ri, described in articles by the Associated Press. The suffering of the Korean people has been beyond human comprehension.

Yet, the examples of the resistance of Koreans, their never-ending democratic struggle for freedom from occupation, for peace, and for reunification, count among the noblest in human history.

Now, due to the renewed hostile policies of the U.S. Bush administration toward North Korea, the Korean people are encountering the threat of preemptive war- the threat of nuclear confrontation. As never before, that menace now extends to the region and to the entire world.

In 2002, George W. Bush abandoned the accord so critical to international peace and security, the ABM Treaty. He then proceeded to build the National Missile Defense system and to deploy theater missile defenses, which the ABM treaty had proscribed.

The Bush Administration and the Pentagon particularly used as their pretext for these moves an alleged nuclear threat from North Korea.

During his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, George W. Bush, singled out North Korea along with Iraq and Iran as belonging to an Aaxis of evil,@ accusing North Korea of Aarming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

A few weeks later, the Bush Administration unveiled its doctrine on preemptive strikes. The policy directed the Pentagon to be prepared to use nuclear weapons against seven countries: Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria.

The Awar on terrorism,@ prompted by the horrific attacks on September 11, became the engine for these new policies.

All of these pillars of Bush=s new military doctrine and plans for global imperial domination were laid out even before he took office in 2001. They were contained in a then secret plan, written by the neo-conservative think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC), called "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century." It was formulated for Dick Cheney (now Vice President), Donald Rumsfeld (now Defense Secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (now Rumsfeld's deputy), George W. Bush's younger brother Jeb, and Lewis Libby (now Cheney's chief of staff).

The blueprint speaks of the intention to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein were in power. It states: AWhile the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam [email protected]

The PNAC document calls for the U.S. to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars" as a "core mission". It identifies North Korea, Libya, Syria and Iran as "dangerous regimes"  justifying the formation of a "world-wide command-and-control system" . And it states that "it is time to increase the presence of American forces in southeast Asia," which could result in "American and allied power providing the spur to the process of democratization in China."

Shockingly, the PNAC blueprint also pointed to a need for a "Pearl Harbor type event" to arouse the American public into supporting this program.

The basic goal of this clearly spelled out plan is to ensure U.S. political and economic domination of the world. (See http://www.newamericancentury.org )

Many pundits today openly acknowledge what millions the world over have known for some time, that the U.S. is indeed an imperialist power. Zbigniew Brzezinksi, in his book "The Grand Chessboard," lays out very openly the parameters of that imperialism, preferring to describe of it as "benevolent" though it matches all the classic characteristics of empires of the past.

Add to the litany of all these threats to peace the recent U.S. moves authorizing the building of new nuclear weapons-including so-called mini-nukes and bunker-buster nukes.

Weapons of Mass Destruction High among Washington=s pretexts for waging preemptive war is "eliminating weapons of mass destruction." At one point Bush asserted that the danger was so great it would be [email protected] for the U.S. not to attack Iraq. As we all know, in the case of Iraq, no such arsenals or even components of WMDs, have been found.

Now defense secretary Rumsfeld tells us that WMDs might never be uncovered in Iraq and that it really isn=t very important anyway. His deputy Paul Wolfowitz admitted that the WMD issue was a convenient excuse for war saying, "For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on," according to an article in Vanity Fair magazine. (July 2003- Also see David Usborne, WMD Just a Convenient Excuse for War, Admits Wolfowitz, Independent Digital, May 30, 2003)

Even the U.S. intelligence community is raising a ruckus because they say the Bush administration didn=t listen to them and instead produced its own WMD evidence. The entire facade for unleashing the war is being blown wide open in the U.S. and Britain with calls for official investigations. According to Agence France-Presse (June 2, 2003), ARetired General Edward Atkeson, a former U.S. army intelligence officer said that talk of banned weapons was an excuse for the administration's true goal in "Iraq-regime change."

Democratic Senator Robert Byrd (West Virginia) said in an interview with The Washington Post: "The Bush team=s extensive hype of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as a justification for a preemptive invasion has become more embarrassing. It has raised serious questions about prevarication and the reckless use of power...

"Were our troops needlessly put at risk? Were countless Iraqi civilians killed and maimed when war was not really necessary? Was the American public deliberately misled? Was the world?" Byrd asked. (Ibid.)

Speaking before Congress just prior to the Memorial Day break, Byrd said: "The run-up to our invasion of Iraq featured the president and members of his cabinet invoking every frightening image they could conjure, from mushroom clouds, to buried caches of germ warfare, to drones poised to deliver germ laden death in our major cities...It was the exploitation of fear..."(Ibid.)

Amplifying the Drumbeat of War Against the DPRK Nevertheless, having been through this fraudulent justification for the "shock and awe" invasion and destruction of Iraq causing the deaths of countless thousands including many children, we are being barraged with the same kind of rationalization for war against Iran and North Korea.

In this context, the U.S. has been building up its military presence in and around the Korean Peninsula for a number of months. General Leon J. LaPorte, U.S. commander in South Korea announced an 11 billion dollar "force enhancement initiatives." It included the deployment of B-1 and B-52 bombers to Guam and extended the deployment of six F-117A Stealth fighter-bombers and conducted drills with these aircraft last March in South Korea. Among other things, the plan includes the deployment of Patriot Advanced Capability-c (PAC-3) anti-ballistic missiles aimed at North Korea, according to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (June 2, 2003).

Then, more recently, Deputy secretary of defense Wolfowitz, indicated that American troops would be withdrawn from the demilitarized zone which The New York Times described as a move Ato take them out of easy range of North Korean artillery, and theoretically position the United States to mount a preemptive attack against the [email protected] Pentagon officials have recently made clear that the changes were being made with the possibility of war in mind. This is in spite of the request by ROK President Roh Moo Hyun that the Bush administration postpone any redeployment of the Second Infantry Division until "after the nuclear issue has been resolved." (Howard W. French, Official Says U.S. Will Reposition Its Troops in South Korea,  June 3, 2003,The New York Times)

"North Korea is teetering on the edge of economic collapse,  The Associated Press quoted Mr. Wolfowitz as saying. That, I believe, is a major point of leverage" (Ibid.)

Not only does all of this add up to a renewed U.S. confrontational stance toward the DPRK, it also has opened the floodgates for other nations to invoke similar polices.

Japan is now moving ahead with the deployment of two U.S. theater missile defenses. (Japan Today, June 1, 2003) Furthermore, Japan=s defense chief, Shigeru Ishiba, said in parliament in January that Japan could ask U.S. forces to launch a pre-emptive strike on North Korean missile bases if Pyongyang was preparing to fire [email protected] (Agence France-Presse, May 31,2003)

All of this is in addition to the ongoing presence of 37,000 U.S. troops (plus several thousand more on the DMZ) and 97 military installations in South Korea; regular U.S.-led war games; daily target bombing for 50 years at the bombing range near the village of Maehyang-Ri; crimes by members of the U.S. military against Korean citizens, which go unpunished; and environmental destruction by these military forces, including the dumping by of toxic wastes into the Han River, the drinking water source for millions of people. To this day, a state of war still exists because the U.S. refused to sign a peace treaty at the end of the Korean War.

We need to remember that, the DPRK has been under direct nuclear threat longer than any other nation. During the Korean War, Gen Douglas MacArthur had to be prevented from implementing his plan to drop atomic bombs on North Korea. Throughout the Cold War, the DPRK faced the threat of U.S. nuclear weapons and up to 100 tactical nuclear warheads stationed south of the DMZ.

Regarding the nuclear issue, it should be borne in mind that there are 8-12,000 nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal. Many remain on hair-trigger alert.

The Agreed Framework During the Clinton presidency, according to then Defense Secretary William Perry and Assistant Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, an attack on the Yongbyon facility was being readied even though they acknowledged that the price would be very heavy including for South Korea. "The intensity of combat would be greater than any the world has witnessed since the last Korean War," they said. (Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry, ABack to the Brink,@ Washington Post, Oct. 20, 2002 and Leon V. Sigal, Jimmy Carter, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Jan.-Feb. 1998)

Kim Young-Sam, then president of the ROK, said: AAt the time the situation was really dangerous...The Clinton Government was preparing for [email protected] As American forces mobilized for an assault, Kim warned U.S. Ambassador, James Laney that South Korea would not move "even a single soldier"  in support of the U.S. war. Kim then phoned President Clinton and told him "there would be no inter-Korean war while I was president." Finally Clinton relented, but he considered this only a temporary setback. (ASouth Korea Stopped U.S. Strike on North Korea," Agence France-Presse, May 24, 2000.)

The unofficial intervention and trip to Pyongyang by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who was deeply alarmed over the dangerous march toward war, helped bring about negotiations that ultimately led to the 1994 DPRK-U.S. Agreed Framework.

The peace-loving peoples of America and of the world must be made aware of the facts, including the following:

In accordance with the Agreed Framework, North Korea agreed to freeze its graphite-moderated reactor at Yongbyon and halt construction of two more reactors, to be monitored by the IAEA. The U.S. agreed to "undertake to make arrangements for the provision" to North Korea of a light water reactor (LWR) project. Thereby this would quell any notion that plutonium extracted from the Yongbyon facility was being utilized in the development of nuclear weapons, even though there had never been any evidence to that effect. Upon completion of the LWR project, the DPRK agreed "to dismantle its graphite-moderated reactors and the related facilities, according to article 5 of the Agreed Framework.

While the light water reactors were under construction, the U.S. was obligated to supply North Korea annually with half a million tons of "heavy oil" for heating and electricity production." These shipments were intended to serve as partial compensation to North Korea for being forced to abandon efforts to meet its energy needs -critical to its economic development.

Furthermore, the Agreed Framework called for a "move to full normalization of political and economic relations." And Article 3 states, "The U.S. will provide formal assurances to the DPRK, against the threat of use of nuclear weapons by the U.S."

Despite these commitments, the U.S. never let up on its aggressive nuclear posture toward the DPRK. For example, in the spring of 1998, war games using aircraft based at the Seymour Johnson Air Base in North Carolina, "simulated fighting a war in Korea," according to Brigadier General Randall E. Bigum. "[We] simulated a decision by the National Command Authority about considering using nuclear weapons," he said. (Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Sept.-Oct. 2002)

As we have described, this hostile posture was greatly intensified by President Bush. This stance has included stepped up staging of U.S.-led maneuvers directed against North Korea.

All of these realities, along with the failure of the U.S. to carry out its commitments regarding the light water project and its halting of the shipments of heavy oil which caused untold economic hardship, led the DPRK to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to end the freeze on its reactor at Yongbyon and its program to construct of two more reactors. In so doing, they pointed to Article X which stipulates: AEach party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country."

In recent days, hostile moves toward the DPRK have been further intensified.

Bush has been trying to line up other countries to back sanctions and even preemptive attack on North Korea on the excuse of Aridding it of weapons of mass [email protected] This has been a repetitive theme during his recent travels including at the G8 conference in Évian, France.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz, speaking at a conference of regional defense ministers in Singapore on May 31, said that the region must form a united position to isolate and pressure Pyongyang.

At the G8 meeting in Évian, Bush wrapped his rhetoric about WMDs in the more palatable package of "non-proliferation." This was his main agenda, according to The New York Times (June 2, 2003).

Yet, the U.S., which possesses by far the largest arsenal of nuclear armaments, has failed to abide by Article VI of the Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which stipulates that the nuclear weapons states, including the U.S., accomplish the total and unequivocal elimination of their nuclear weapons. The existence of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is bound to lead other nations to try to acquire such weapons. Washington is maintaining a double standard by requiring other nations to respect the NPT when the U.S. is planning to develop new nuclear weapons.

Paul Wolfowitz visited Camp Greaves on the edge of the DMZ on June 1--- a move that eerily echoes the visit on June 21, 1950, by then Secretary of State Dean Acheson and John Foster Dulles, his advisor, to the 38th parallel just a few days before the start of the Korean War. The war drums seem to be rising to a crescendo.

The Path to Peace Under these menacing circumstances, the DPRK is asserting its right to possess nuclear weapons to ensure its security if the U.S. continues threatening it. Nevertheless, the DPRK maintains its desire to seek a peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue, through negotiations. This is a goal shared by the ROK as well. Indeed, the great majority of people around the world long for a peaceful resolution of this perilous confrontation.

If the U.S. had lived up to the Agreed Framework provisions, the current dangerous crisis could have been avoided. The people of North Korea would not be suffering so desperately from the lack of electric power, which is key to agricultural and industrial production- a hardship that was acutely exacerbated by a series of unprecedented natural disasters of flooding and drought.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to maintain the U.S. military might in and around South Korea. This has helped fill the coffers of the arms manufacturers, instead of being used for human needs, health care, schools, feeding hungry children in the U.S. or for helping the development of two-thirds of humanity who subsist in abject poverty. Many Americans feel it is time to stop the hemorrhaging of trillions of tax dollars to military spending which go to defend the interests of giant corporations, and to pay various military-industrial enterprises to destroy and then rebuild. More than ever, there are ties between such corporations and the U.S. administration. For example, mega-monopolies such as Bechtel, Halliburton, Enron, Carlyle Group and U.S. oil cartels are directly connected with the Bush Administration. Once the America public understands these things, it will no longer tolerate such a scandalous situation.

We of the "other superpower" -the vast majority of humankind yearn for peace and justice in the world. We must reject fraudulent accusations about weapons of mass destruction, used as pretexts for waging new wars. Increasingly, we must raise our voices to prevent war on the Korean Peninsula based on the following essential steps:

1) The U.S. immediately should resume negotiations with the DPRK, in good faith;

 2) Reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula by returning to the pledge contained in the Agreed Framework to renounce the threat or use of nuclear weapons and a non-aggression pact;

3) Respect the will of the Korean people for the full implementation of the North-South Declaration as a road map for achieving peace, reconciliation and reunification on the Korean Peninsula.

 Karen Talbot is the director of International Council for Peace and Justice based in San Francisco. Copyright K Talbot  2003.  For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .