Category Archives: North Corea

US leaves door ajar for talks with North Korea

By Peter Symonds 
19 April 2013
In the wake of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to China last weekend, the Obama administration has played down the “threat” posed by North Korea. Washington’s intention all along had been to manipulate the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, despite the danger of precipitating a conflict, to extract concessions from Beijing.
After meeting with Chinese leaders, Kerry told the media that “all options” in getting North Korea to denuclearise had been discussed. Top American military and diplomatic officials—Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns—are to hold further talks with their Chinese counterparts.
In an interview broadcast on Tuesday with NBC News, Obama confirmed that North Korea was unlikely to have a nuclear weapon that could be mounted on a missile. “Based on our current intelligence assessments, we do not think that they have that capacity,” he said. His comments effectively put a lid on weeks of sensational media coverage of the supposed North Korean threat to the US.
Obama justified his build-up of anti-missile systems in the Asia Pacific, on the pretext of “dealing with every contingency”. In fact, the US decision to boost its anti-ballistic missile systems in Alaska by 50 percent was taken months ago and will take several years to implement. The deployment of these weapons is not directed against North Korea, but is part of the Pentagon’s plans for fighting a nuclear war against China.
During his trip, Kerry hinted that the US was open to talks with North Korea as long as Pyongyang took tangible steps to indicate its eventual willingness to abandon its nuclear weapons program. Obama also indicated that, while North Korea might take “more provocative moves over the next several weeks”, he hoped to “move into a different phase” to “work through diplomatically some of these issues”.
At the same time, referring to North Korea’s empty threats, Obama declared that he was not going to “reward this kind of provocative behaviour”. The remark is completely hypocritical. The US exploited Pyongyang’s bluster and deliberately fuelled it as a means of putting pressure on China. The Pentagon flew nuclear capable B-2 and B-52 strategic bombers, as well as F-22 fighters, to South Korea to underline its ability to devastate North Korea.
North Korea’s response to offers of talks by the US and South Korea has been laden with strident language and demands, but it has not ruled out negotiations. In a statement on Wednesday, Pyongyang declared it was open for talks, but not while the US was “brandishing a nuclear stick”. However, the same statement ruled out discussions with South Korea and warned of “military countermeasures” if joint US-South Korean military exercises, scheduled to run until the end of April, continued.
Yesterday, Pyongyang set out its own preconditions for talks: the lifting of UN sanctions, an end to US-South Korean military drills, the withdrawal of “all [US] nuclear war means” from South Korea, and a halt to South Korean accusations of North Korean cyber-attacks. While Kerry branded these prerequisites as “not acceptable”, he said he was prepared to look at them as “at least a beginning gambit”.
Kerry said the Obama administration wanted to break the cycle of past negotiations. He complained that previously “you reach agreement, they go back on it. You reach agreement again, you give them some food aid; there’s some sort of bait; nothing happens.”
In reality, it is the US that has held the whip hand in negotiations with the small, economically-backward state over the past two decades. Apart from providing limited short-term aid, Washington has repeatedly reneged on agreements. Most recently, the Bush administration effectively sabotaged a deal reached in 2007 at six-party talks sponsored by China. North Korea complied with the terms—shutting down its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon and beginning the process of disabling them—but in 2008 the Bush administration insisted on additional inspection conditions that were not part of the deal and led to its collapse.
The Obama administration has never attempted to revive the 2007 agreement or restart the six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia. Nor is it likely that Washington will rejoin the six-party forum, because it is managed by China. Obama’s ratcheting up of tensions on the Korean Peninsula is part of his aggressive “pivot” aimed at undermining Chinese interests throughout the region. Any talks will seek to lure North Korea away from its longstanding ties with China—as has happened in the US rapprochement with Burma since 2011.
North Korea is obviously not the same as Burma, but it is similarly desperate to end the debilitating US economic and diplomatic blockade of the country, maintained since the end of the Korean War in 1953. No one should be fooled by Pyongyang’s “anti-imperialist” rhetoric. The North Korean regime is more than willing to transform the country into a cheap labour platform for global corporations. It has already established an industrial zone for South Korean companies. All it seeks, in return, are guarantees for its own survival, which the US has been unwilling to give.
North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, has made symbolic gestures hinting that Pyongyang could be open for business. In January, North Korea hosted an “unofficial” American delegation that included Google chairman Eric Schmidt and former US ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson. Last month, Kim Jong-un met with former American basketball star Dennis Rodman, who has since declared that he plans to vacation with the North Korean leader in August. Pyongyang has also held off, for the time being, on a further missile test.
These diplomatic signals on both sides are extremely tentative. Moreover, having recklessly wound up tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the US has created an unstable situation. The right-wing governments in South Korea and Japan have seized on the crisis to advance their own militarist agendas. In the Chinese leadership, there is a debate over whether or not to continue to support the North Korean regime. Any miscalculation by any party could rapidly lead to the intensification of the present standoff and a drift into conflict.

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US Has A Paranoid Policy Towards North Korea

By William Boardman
April 11, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – National Paranoia is the Irrational Fear that You’re Being Threatened Which is the more paranoid statement?
1. AMERICAN MEDIA: “North Korea is threatening to attack us with nuclear weapons,”
2. NORTH KOREAN MEDIA: “The United States is threatening to attack us with nuclear weapons.” 
Taking recent events in the U.S. and the Korean peninsula as evidence, while mostly ignoring historical context, the drift toward another American war in Asia can be seen as clearly as the ambiguous moves and countermoves of countries with no obvious motive for war might allow, producing headlines like this [1] in the New York Times of April 4:
“North Korea Moves Missile to Coast, but Little Threat is Seen” 
According to the Times, “North Korea has been issuing a blistering series of similar threats in recent weeks, citing as targets the American military installations in the Pacific islands of Hawaii and Guam, as well as the United States mainland.”
One reason such threats are not always seen as threatening is that North Korea has no missile that can reach the U.S. mainland, and [2] quite likely not even Alaska, Hawaii, or Guam, never mind whether they have any long range missile that can hit anything with any accuracy.
North Koreans Move Missile Closer to U.S.! 
The South Korean defense chief reported April 4 that the North Koreans had moved one longish-range missile to its east coast, maybe 200 miles closer to the U.S., but that missile was still not close enough to come close to the U.S. west coast. Nevertheless, American bases in South Korea and Japan are still presumably reachable targets, as are Korean and Japanese civilians. Most of China and eastern Russia are also within range. [Later reports said the North Koreans had moved two mobile missiles to the coast.]
The U.S. recently deployed a land-based anti-missile missile system to Guam, which is beyond the range of North Korea’s operational missiles. The U.S. has also moved at least two Aegis-class missile-cruisers to patrol waters close to North Korea. While the Aegis system has [3] the capability of attacking targets on land, in the air, and under water, its most notable exploit to date was the 1988 downing of an Iranian passenger plane, killing 290 civilians.
On March 29, CNN reported somewhat breathlessly that “North Korea has entered a ‘state of war’ with neighboring South Korea,” which ignores the reality that the state of war between the two countries has existed since 1950, although an armistice was [4] agreed to in 1953. Fitful efforts to negotiate a formal peace treaty have continued for 60 years, leaving the United Nations Command in place to the present. North Korea has previously rejected the armistice at least five other times, in 1994, 1996, 2003, 2006, and 2009.
Americans Should Be Afraid of Missiles that Can’t Reach America
Exaggerating the CNN story, the Newsweek/Daily Beast editors gave it [5] this scary headline — “North Korea Prepares Strike on U.S.’ – that had no meaningful basis in reality. Amplifying the fear the next day, NBC News ran [6] a disappointingly low-key story under the ramped-up headline:
North Korea puts rockets on standby as US official warns regime is no ‘paper tiger’ 
Peter Hart of FAIR has [7] explored the one-sidedness of American media coverage and its reality-distorting effect in detail.
One reason the North Koreans moved their missile was in response to the March 28 U.S. fly-bys along the South Korean border with B-2 bombers quite capable of carrying enough nuclear weapons to obliterate North Korea and set off nuclear winter around the world. Just because these fly-bys with B-2s, B-52s and other potentially nuclear-armed aircraft were part of military exercises the U.S. and South Koreans put on every year (sometimes using a pretend scenario of invading the North), the U.S. maintains the North shouldn’t think of them as in the least provocative. The B-2s flew from a base in Missouri.
Another North Korean reason for moving their missile might have been the American plans to conduct missile defense drills with Japan and South Korea on an on-going basis. This plan follows the “signal” sent earlier in the winter when the U.S. announced plans to increase its anti-missile missile deployment in Alaska and along the Pacific west coast.
China Votes for Sanctions, but Remains Wild Card
On March 7, the United Nations Security Council unanimously (15-0) approved a resolution brokered by the U.S. and Chine, imposing new economic sanctions on North Korea as punishment for its announcement on February 12, confirming its [8] third nuclear weapons test. While many nations detected seismic activity that they interpreted to be an underground nuclear explosion, and while the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty monitors said the tremor had “clear explosionlike characteristics,” there was no detection of radiation sufficient to confirm that the explosion was nuclear.
North Korea’s admission that it had used a “miniaturized nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously” was seen by some as defiance of Chinese advice against such a test. The Chinese had promised that North Korea would “pay a heavy price” if it went ahead with the test. That price apparently includes China’s cooperation with the U.S. on setting sanctions.
Complicating the response to the test announcement, there are few sanctions left to apply to North Korea, perhaps the world’s second most-sanctioned country after Israel [the U.N. has voted 66 sanctions against Israel, all or most of which Israel ignores with little consequence]. The new North Korea sanctions bar [9] all nations from selling the North expensive jewelry, yachts, luxury automobiles, and racing cars.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said that, “taken together, these sanctions will bite, and bite hard.”
That will depend on China, which has previously helped North Korea get around sanctions, seeming to have less concern for the country across the border having nuclear weapons than having it devolve into instability and chaos. So the current round of sanctions, like earlier ones, will have limited impact unless China should decide to limit its oil shipments, banking services, and other ongoing aid to North Korea.
Anyone Ready for an Act of War, like a Naval Blockade?
Another factor limiting the effectiveness of sanctions has been the unwillingness of the U.S. and other nations to enforce sanctions with a naval blockade, which would be an act of war. And it would be an act of war against a Chinese ally, enforced in the waters off the Chinese mainland.
The announced nuclear test in February came a few weeks after the Security Council had voted unanimously for a resolution in favor of tightening sanctions on North Korea for launching a three-stage rocket in December.
At this point, no one is claiming that North Korea actually has any nuclear warheads, or any actual capacity to deliver one anywhere.
But North Korean [DPRK] bristling continued on April 4, as an unnamed army official suggested that [10]:
“…the moment of explosion is approaching fast. No one can say a war will break out in Korea or not and whether it will break out today or tomorrow…. The responsibility for this grave situation entirely rests with the U.S. administration and military warmongers keen to encroach upon the DPRK’s sovereignty and bring down its dignified social system with brigandish logic.” 
Anonymous U.S. Official Wonders About U.S. Over-reacting
The same day, at the Pentagon, an unnamed Defense Department official, took a look in the mirror and referred to U.S. bellicosity about its own military actions, saying:
“We accused the North Koreans of amping things up, now we are worried we did the same thing…. We are trying to turn the volume down. We are absolutely trying to ratchet back the rhetoric. We become part of the cycle. We allowed that to happen.”
In South Korea, which would likely suffer most from an outbreak of hostilities, one observer there considered the North Korea news reporting “all hype.” Adam Hogue graduated from Keene State College in New Hampshire in 2011 and has been living and working in South Korea ever since. On April 2, he[11] wrote:
“There is a need to create a culture of panic in the United States and, arguably, everywhere else where the major media conglomerates have established news outlets…. 
“As I have heard from my mother, father, sister, friends, the New York Times, CNN and NPR, North Korea is suddenly big news. They are now something to fear. They are something threatening, mysterious and suddenly worthy of all the news headlines in the western-world. There is an urgent message being told that now is a time to panic and react…. 
“But, that message is not coming from my co-workers at school or from the Korean news or from my neighbors; it is a message from the media.” 
American Paranoid Policy Heightened since 9-11
So it seems, in answer to the paranoia question at the beginning of this piece: the U.S. appears to have a comfortable lead in maintaining delusions of being threatened.
While the threats to North Korea are real and existential, that doesn’t preclude some paranoia at the same time: consider the suggestion that [13] the 2010 torpedo-sinking of a South Korean ship – blamed on North Korea and raising war fears – was actually a false flag operation by the Israeli navy using a state-of-the-art German submarine [Israel has [12] a small fleet, armed with nuclear-warhead missiles].
On January 29, 2002, in his first State of the Union address, President George Bush declared that North Korea was part of “an axis of evil” along with Iraq and Iran – nations that, while not an axis in the usual sense, got grouped by President Bush’s belief that they were all developing weapons of mass destruction with which “to threaten the peace of the world.”
Still searching for those weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. has now [14] offered to sell South Korea 60 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter stealth bombers at a discount price of $180 million per plane. If the North Koreans are paying attention, they will not feel immediately threatened by this possible sale of a plane that is at least five years from being operational and still struggling in its test phase.
The F-35 may be more of an economic threat to South Korea.
William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
See also
North Korea close to “dangerous line” with nuclear rhetoric: Hagel: “North Korea has been, with its bellicose rhetoric, its action, … skating very close to a dangerous line,” Hagel said at a Pentagon news conference to discuss the department’s 2014 budget. “Their actions and words have not helped defuse a combustible situation.”
On North Korea Obama says: US “will take all neccessary steps to protect its people”: Obama’s remarks came as he met in the Oval Office with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Obama said the two agreed that “now’s the time for North Korea to end the kind of belligerent approach that they’ve been taking and to try to lower temperatures.”
US uses North Korea’s antics to frighten Americans’: The U.S. is using escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula to frighten American citizens and persuade them that more money should be spend on militarizing the Pacific, says Michael Burns, an American political analyst.

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Behind the North Korean Crisis

By Dennis J. Bernstein
April 06, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – In early March, the U.S. and South Korea launched an expanded set of war games on the Korean Peninsula, prompting concerns in some circles that the military exercises might touch off an escalation of tensions with North Korea.
Christine Hong, a professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz, worried that the U.S. “was lurching towards war” since “the military exercises that the U.S. and South Korea just launched are not defensive exercises” but rather appear to promote a “regime change” strategy.
Those military pressures have, indeed, led to threats of escalation from North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, and have set the Korean security situation at “hair-trigger dangerous,” Professor Hong said in the following interview with Dennis J. Bernstein.
Click play to listen
DB: There’s a lot of disinformation and patriotic reporting coming out of the U.S. Why don’t you tell us what is going on right now. What is the situation and how dangerous is it?
CH: You put your finger on it. All we see is media reporting that singularly ascribes blame to North Korea, which is portrayed as a kind of unquestionable evil, so what the U.S. is doing in response to the supposed provocation seems eminently justified. I think we are in a crisis point. It doesn’t feel dissimilar to the kind of media rhetoric that surrounded the run-up to the U.S. invasion in Iraq. During that time also, there was a steady drumbeat to war. …
If we were to look at the facts, what do those facts tell us? I will give one example of the inverted logic that is operative, coming out of the media and U.S. administration. In a recent Pentagon press conference, [Defense Secretary] Chuck Hagel was asked whether or not the U.S. sending D2 stealth bombers from Missouri to fly and conduct a sortie over South Korea and drop what the DOD calls inert munitions in a simulated run against North Korea could be understood as provocative. He said no, they can’t be understood as provocative. And it was dutifully reported as such.
What we have is a huge informational landscape in which the average person who listens to these reports can’t make heads or tails of what is happening. What has happened since Kim Jong Un has come into his leadership position in North Korea is that the U.S. has had a policy of regime change.
We tend to think of regime change operations and initiatives as a signature or hallmark policy of the Bush administration. But we have seen under President Barak Obama a persistence of the U.S. policy of getting rid of those powers it finds uncooperative around the world. To clarify what I mean, after Kim Jong Il passed away [in December 2011], the U.S. and South Korea launched the biggest and longest set of war exercises they ever conducted. And for the first time it openly exercised O Plan 5029, which is a U.S. war plan that essentially simulates regime collapse in North Korea. It also envisions U.S. forces occupying North Korea.
What is routine during these war exercises, which are ongoing right now, as we speak, is they simulate nuclear strikes against North Korea. These workings are a combination of simulated computer-assisted activity as well as live fire drills. Last year, the first year of Kim Jong Un’s leadership, a South Korean official was asked about the O Plan 5029 and why he was exercising this regime collapse scenario. He said the death of Kim Jong Il makes the situation ripe to exercise precisely this kind of war plan.
It’s almost impossible for us in the United States to imagine Mexico and the historic foe of the U.S., Russia, conducting joint exercises that simulate an invasion of the United States and a foreign occupation of the United States. That is precisely what North Korea has been enduring for several decades.
DB: For some time now, the press has been stenographers for the State Department. There is no independent reporting about this. You don’t see it in either the conservative or the liberal press. We do not understand the level and intensity of the so-called war games that happen offshore of North Korea. You made a dramatic point about imagining if North Korea wanted to conduct war games off the coast of the United States. The press plays a key role here in fanning the flames of a dangerous situation. How dangerous do you perceive the situation is now?
CH: I think that it’s hair-trigger dangerous. There are many reasons for this. Even the commanding general of the U.S. armed forces in Korea, James Thurman, said that even the smallest miscalculation could lead to catastrophic consequences. Even though many blame North Korea, I think everyone realizes this is a very volatile situation that has gone entirely unreported in the U.S. media.
China has stepped up its military presence. You have a situation where China is amassing its forces along the North Korea-China border, sending military vehicles to this area, conducting controlled flights over this area. It’s also conducted its own live fire drills in the West Sea. So you have a situation which is eerily reminiscent of the Korean War, in which you can envision alliances like the U.S. and South Korea, with China in some echo that slips into a relationship with North Korea.
I think it’s a very dangerous situation we are in right now. The abysmal nature of the reporting is that all you hear is jingoistic. One thing we need to understand is that U.S. and North Korean relations must be premised on peace. For over six decades, the relations have been premised on war. U.S. policy toward North Korea throughout the existence of North Korea has been one of regime change.
If you understand the basis of the relations of war, you realize that war doesn’t just get conducted on the level of battles or simulated battles. It gets conducted on terrain of information. So when you think about it that way, it’s easy to understand why misinformation and disinformation prevails with the reporting of U.S. and North Korean relations.
DB: Secretary of State John Kerry called North Korea’s actions dangerous and reckless and he continues to be part of a policy to send the most advanced stealth fighting weaponry, as if they could name enough weapons that would back down the North Koreans.
You can’t document this, but what is your take on the many countries in the world who are cheering, maybe not in the foreground, that somebody finally said, “no, you can’t make believe that we are an aggressor. You can’t turn us into an enemy when you are having exercises with 60,000 troops. You can’t plan to invade us and expect us to just stand by.” I’m sure there are many countries and leaders, many revolutionaries in this world, who are taking note.
CH: Of course. That is the other inverted reality. There is the reality of those of us who are in the U.S. and locked into the limitations of our positions here, and the rest of the world. This is classic U.S. Cold War foreign policy. … So much of what goes on in our name in U.S. foreign policy is far from pretty. It is a blood-soaked history.
If you pause to think about the lived reality of those people who are unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of U.S. foreign policy, then you realize that George Bush had that plaintive cry, “Why do they hate us?” It was a kind of soul-searching incapacity to understand the causes of anti-Americanism around the world. But as you say, if we are going to have a sensible approach to procuring any kind of common future with the rest of the world, we are going to have to reckon with our foreign policy. And that is something that has yet to be done.
DB: I do get the feeling that the U.S. foreign policy is at least in part predicated on keeping a divide between the North and the South.
CH: Let’s go back to history. You nailed it. Since the inception of something called North Korea and South Korea, the U.S. has been instrumental throughout. If you go back to 1945, you see that scarcely three days after the bombing of Nagasaki, two junior U.S. army officers, Dean Rusk and Charles Bonesteel retired to a small room armed with nothing more than a National Geographic map of the Korean peninsula, through which, in a 30-minute session, with absolutely no consultation of any Korean, divided the Korean peninsula. This division of the Korean peninsula at the 38th parallel into north and south, and the creation of a southern government, had no popular legitimacy.
North Korea had a very long anti-colonial history relative to the Japanese. What was created is a divided system in which one in three Korean families at that time were separated. So a kind of state is visited on the Koreans who were colonized by the Japanese and were not a war aggressor during WW II. What this eventually assured is that there would be a civil war of national unification that would be fought by both sides, the North and South.
That tension has hurt U.S. purposes. The U.S. claims that it is doing all these very provocation actions, the stealth bombers, etc, because it needs to give a show of support to its South Korean ally. But of course, this fundamentally misunderstands history and the fact that the U.S., from the beginning, has exploited the division for its own geopolitical advantage.
DB: What do we know about what is happening in the South? Is there a grassroots movement that includes unity and shows concern for this kind of U.S. hegemony in the region?
CH: Absolutely. The specter of a nuclear war and a U.S. nuclear strike against North Korea would not just impact those people who live above the 38th parallel. It would inevitably impact the rest of the peninsula, environmentally, and in every way. These are two countries that are very much tied through families, communities, etc. This is an unimaginable outcome.
When the South Korean people have been polled as to which country they think is the greater threat, the United States or North Korea, they point to the United States. In the South, as well as in the North, 60 years represents a full lifetime. …
South Korean progressive activists have said “We had 60 years of a war system.” 2013 will be the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War armistice that brought the Korean War to a temporary halt, but did not end the Korean War. After six decades of a war system, they have said 2013 is the first year of Korean peace. We’ve had 60 years of war, and we are inaugurating a new era of peace.
Heaven forbid the U.S. continues its strategy for de-nuclearizing North Korea. North Korea believes that nuclear power is the basis of its sovereignty. Heaven forbid that the U.S., rather than finding a way of co-existing with North Korea, actually deploys nuclear power to stop nuclearization. That would be the greatest irony of all.
DB: Amazing. If you had ten minutes to advise Barak Obama about what U.S. foreign policy might be helpful, what would you say?
CH: I would say that the U.S. would secure so many gains were it seriously to consider peace. Both Donald Gregg, the head of CIA in South Korea for many years and also the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, and Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, and someone who actually runs a humanitarian aid organization that provides food relief in North Korea, both said, after Dennis Rodman returned from North Korea, that the message he was conveying to Obama was “Call me. We don’t want war.” They both stated that however irregular the form of the message, it could not be ignored.
Most U.S. presidents get a vision in their second term. In regard to North Korea, even G.W. Bush said engagement and diplomacy was the only way forward. I would only hope that Barack Obama would come to his senses about North Korea as well.
Dennis J. Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at

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What A Third Korean War Would Look Like

By Eric Margolis
April 06, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The intensifying war of words between North Korea, the United States and ally South Korea could ignite a major conflict. The likely trigger would be a small clash at sea, in the air, or along the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas.
What would a war in Korea look like?
First, nuclear conflict is unlikely. North Korea is not believed to have any long or medium-ranged nuclear weapons, certainly none that could hit North America. North Korea might be able to strike South Korea with a nuclear device. But then US nuclear weapons would wipe North Korea off the map.
North Korea’s military strategy would be to launch a surprise attack on the south to occupy Seoul and Inchon. The vital US Air Force bases at Osan and Kunsan, and eight South Korean air bases, would be primary targets.
North Korea’s elite 88,000 special forces units are tasked to attack and neutralize these air bases as well as headquarters, communication nodes, and munitions depots of the US and Republic of Korea (ROK) forces.
Barrages of North Korean conventional missiles would hit these bases and command hubs, possibly with chemical warheads.
Special North Korean amphibious units would land and strike these targets from the sea. North Korea has 300 old Soviet-era AN-2 biplanes that carry ten commandos each. Invisible to radar because they are made of fabric and hug the earth, the AN-2’s would air assault suicide squads into US and ROK airbases.
Other North Korean special forces are tasked with attacking US bases in Okinawa, Japan and as far off as Guam, where the US is installing its new THAAD anti-missile system.
North Korea has developed potent electronic warfare capability that would degrade US/South Korean communications and online targets.
Meanwhile, 14,000 North Korean heavy guns and rocket batteries dug into caves behind the DMZ could pour storms of shells or rockets per hour onto US/ROK positions south of the DMZ. North Korea’s 170mm guns and 240mm rockets have a range of 50 and 45 km respectively. Large parts of Seoul would be heavily damaged.
North Korea has about 700,000 soldiers within 150km of the DMZ, with another 400,000 in backup echelons further north. These divisions would fight their way south through South Korea’s ‘Maginot Line,’ seven parallel lines of anti-tank ditches, minefields, and high earth walls surmounted by tanks (South Korea denies it exists, but I have seen it).
In spite of intense air attacks by the US and ROK, the North Korean offensive could likely reach at least as far south of Seoul, only an hour’s drive from the DMZ.
US retaliation would be ferocious. US and ROK warplanes would quickly attain air superiority over the entire peninsula. North Korea’s 70 airbases would be obliterated and its obsolescent air force quickly neutralized. The North Korean surface fleets would share a similar fate. US warplanes would pound North Korea’s command and control, communications, rail lines, bridges and factories not buried underground.
During the 1950-53 Korean War, US B-29 heavy bombers literally flattened North Korea. That’s why North Korea reacted so furiously when US B-52 heavy bombers and B-2 Stealth bombers skirted its borders late last month, triggering off this latest crisis. The B-2 can deliver the fearsome ‘MOAB’ 30,000 lb. bomb called “the Mother of All Bombs” designed to destroy deep underground command hq’s (read Kim Jon-un’s bunker) and underground nuclear facilities.
Since the 1950’s, the North Koreans have buried much of their military-industrial complex and continue to train their ground forces in small unit, off-the-road tactics. The North also has a militia of 1.6 million to defend key targets and factories.
Unless the US uses tactical nuclear weapons, it will be difficult to defeat North Korea. Doing so means invading North Korea, a risky operation that might invite Chinese intervention, as it did in 1950. Moreover, US ground and air forces are bogged down in Afghanistan and the Mideast, their equipment is run down, and the US Treasury out of money.
The Pentagon estimated a full-scale invasion of North Korea could cost 250,000 American casualties. In short, a real war, not the jolly little police actions launched by the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.
Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia.
Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2013

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North Korea Reportedly Entering ‘State Of War’ Against South Korea


March 30, 2013 “Information Clearing HouseHuffington Post” – SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea warned Seoul on Saturday that the Korean Peninsula had entered “a state of war” and threatened to shut down a border factory complex that’s the last major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

Analysts say a full-scale conflict is extremely unlikely, noting that the Korean Peninsula has remained in a technical state of war for 60 years. But the North’s continued threats toward Seoul and Washington, including a vow to launch a nuclear strike, have raised worries that a misjudgment between the sides could lead to a clash.

North Korea’s threats are seen as efforts to provoke the new government in Seoul, led by President Park Geun-hye, to change its policies toward Pyongyang, and to win diplomatic talks with Washington that could get it more aid. North Korea’s moves are also seen as ways to build domestic unity as young leader Kim Jong Un strengthens his military credentials.

On Thursday, U.S. military officials revealed that two B-2 stealth bombers dropped dummy munitions on an uninhabited South Korean island as part of annual defense drills that Pyongyang sees as rehearsals for invasion. Hours later, Kim ordered his generals to put rockets on standby and threatened to strike American targets if provoked.

North Korea said in a statement Saturday that it would deal with South Korea according to “wartime regulations” and would retaliate against any provocations by the United States and South Korea without notice.

“Now that the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK have entered into an actual military action, the inter-Korean relations have naturally entered the state of war,” said the statement, which was carried by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency, referring to the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Provocations “will not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war,” the statement said.

Hours after the statement, Pyongyang threatened to shut down the jointly run Kaesong industrial park, expressing anger over media reports suggesting the complex remained open because it was a source of hard currency for the impoverished North.

“If the puppet group seeks to tarnish the image of the DPRK even a bit, while speaking of the zone whose operation has been barely maintained, we will shut down the zone without mercy,” an identified spokesman for the North’s office controlling Kaesong said in comments carried by KCNA.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry responded by calling the North Korean threat “unhelpful” to the countries’ already frayed relations and vowed to ensure the safety of hundreds of South Korean managers who cross the border to their jobs in Kaesong. It did not elaborate.

South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said the country’s military remains mindful of the possibility that increasing North Korean drills near the border could lead to an actual provocation.

“The series of North Korean threats – announcing all-out war, scrapping the cease-fire agreement and the non-aggression agreement between the South and the North, cutting the military hotline, entering into combat posture No. 1 and entering a `state of war’ – are unacceptable and harm the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula,” Kim said.

“We are maintaining full military readiness in order to protect our people’s lives and security,” he told reporters Saturday.

The two Koreas remain technically at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. Naval skirmishes in the disputed waters off the Korean coast have led to bloody battles several times over the years.

But on the streets of Seoul on Saturday, South Koreans said they were not worried about an attack from North Korea.

“From other countries’ point of view, it may seem like an extremely urgent situation,” said Kang Tae-hwan, a private tutor. “But South Koreans don’t seem to be that nervous because we’ve heard these threats from the North before.”

The Kaesong industrial park, which is run with North Korean labor and South Korean know-how, has been operating normally, despite Pyongyang shutting down a communications channel typically used to coordinate travel by South Korean workers to and from the park just across the border in North Korea. The rivals are now coordinating the travel indirectly, through an office at Kaesong that has outside lines to South Korea.

North Korea has previously made such threats about Kaesong without acting on them, and recent weeks have seen a torrent of bellicose rhetoric from Pyongyang. North Korea is angry about the South Korea-U.S. military drills and new U.N. sanctions over its nuclear test last month.

Dozens of South Korean firms run factories in the border town of Kaesong. Using North Korea’s cheap, efficient labor, the Kaesong complex produced $470 million worth of goods last year.

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North Korean nuke threat is ‘absurd and suicidal,’

Says Menendez, even as he supports possible war against Iran
By Philip Weiss 
March 09, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – “Mondoweiss” – Earlier this week Senator Bob Menendez spoke at AIPAC and vowed to use military force to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capability.
when it comes to Iran’s drive to achieve nuclear weapons capability. We cannot, we must not, and we will not stand for a nuclear Iran. Period.
Then yesterday North Korea threatened to use nukes to turn Washington into a “sea of fire,” and Menendez dismissed the threat as “absurd and suicidal;” if North Korea attacks us, that’s the end of North Korea.
At yesterday’s news briefing at the State Department, the spokesperson Victoria Nuland all but dismissed the threat as bluster, and said they couldn’t hurt us if they wanted to.
How serious do you take the threats from Pyongyang?
MS. NULAND: Well, let’s just start by saying that this kind of bellicose rhetoric from the DPRK is not surprising. It’s not new. This regime has regularly missed the opportunity to improve its relationship with the outside world. Let me just take this opportunity to say that the United States is fully capable of defending against a DPRK ballistic missile attack. Furthermore, we are continuing to upgrade our ballistic missile defense capabilities. We remain firmly committed to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan and the maintenance of regional peace and security…
QUESTION: Just – when you say that it’s not surprising, does that mean you take it to be more bluster than actual warning of any imminent plans from North Korea of military action?
MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, one has to take what any government says seriously. It’s for that reason that I repeat here that we are fully capable of defending the United States. But I would also say that this kind of extreme rhetoric has not been unusual for this regime, unfortunately.
Let’s be clear: Menendez’s suicide argument and Victoria Nuland’s fully capable of defending argument are arguments for deterrence and containment. You never hear those arguments in the context of Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions–no, there we have to use military force if Iran even approaches nuclear capability, presumably because Muslims are so irrational.
It’s a double standard that pertains to the special relationship the U.S. has with Israel. Ahmadinejad’s declaration that Israel will disappear from the pages of history was regarded as an existential threat to the Jewish state. Imagine if an Iranian leader said he’d turn Washington or Jerusalem into a “sea of fire.”
Of course of course, the greatest threat to Israel’s security is Iran. It is clear to everyone in this room that there can never be any daylight between the United States and Israel. Not ever. But certainly not when it comes to Iran’s drive to achieve nuclear weapons capability. We cannot, we must not, and we will not stand for a nuclear Iran. Period.
Let’s put the Iranian threat to Israel and the region in perspective. Some people say this is all about Israel. I say it’s about the national interest and security of the United States as well. And Iran with nuclear weapons capability would be emboldened to take more aggressive actions against both Israel and the United States.
Yes, a Shahab 3 missile can hit Israel, but it can also hit a NATO ally. And under our NATO treaty agreement, we are obligated to respond on behalf of any NATO ally. It’s already unacceptable and deplorable support for terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah would only increase. Its provocative behavior around one of the world’s most important strategic waterways, the Strait of Hormuz, could escalate. And a nuclear Iran could unleash an arms race in the world’s most dangerous tinderbox. Clearly, the threat to Israel’s existence would increase dramatically and the situation would become far, far more dangerous.
Once we put the extent of the nuclear threat in this context, it is easy to see why we need to be prepared to act. We need to be absolutely clear that it is the unequivocal policy of the United States to do everything in its power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapon capability. And absolutely clear that we reject policy options designed simply to contain a nuclear-armed Iran. Containment is not an option for the United States.
Any policy built around the containment of a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. Our clear intention must be to prevent Iran from ever reaching nuclear capacity, I should say. One way to prevent that from happening is through the tough sanctions that I have authored and been passed by the Congress with your help and your advocacy. Sometimes I know you wonder whether your advocacy makes a difference. It does.
In fact, over the past year and a half I have authored three pieces of legislation that have imposed the toughest sanctions that Iran has ever faced, sanctions that are now strangling the Iranian economy and have had a real impact on the behavior of those companies and countries that were in bed with the regime. But we must do more to fully implement these sanctions and make absolutely clear to the Iranian government that unless they change their course, their situation will only get worse and economic struggles and economic international isolation will grow.
…we should not close the door to further discussions. And I’m hopeful that last week’s negotiations between the P5+1 entities and Iran will bring some future progress. But let’s be clear. We will not and cannot talk for talking’s sake. We cannot allow the negotiations to become just a stalling tactic for Iran to buy time. The P5+1 and the broader international community must unite around a simple message, two simple points: We will never accept a nuclear Iran and you cannot outwait us in that goal.
…Of course, sanctions are only a means to a clear end. In this case, Iran engaging in serious meaningful, fruitful negotiations that result in an end to its nuclear ambitions. Sanctions are our last peaceful diplomacy too. But we must also make clear, as President Obama has said, that all options are on the table. And I add that those options must be credible, which is why the Graham-Menendez resolution is so important at this time, standing behind Israel and its ability to protect itself and sending that message to the rest of the world.
Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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Condemning North Korea’s Latest Nuclear Test Is Meaningless

By Buddhi Kota Subbarao
February 14, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – “A third nuclear test has been successfully staged,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Tuesday, February 12, 2013. “The high-level nuclear test, unlike in the past, had more explosive power and involved a miniaturized and lighter atomic bomb and was staged safely and perfectly.” said KCNA.
North Korea further said the test is aimed at coping with “ferocious” U.S. hostility that undermines the North’s peaceful, sovereign right to launch satellites.
The estimated yield of the latest North Korean nuclear test is 6 to 7 kilo tons. It is a miniaturized, lighter atomic bomb which can be carried on a long range missile, the technology of which is more or less mastered by North Korea. The implication is North Korea is capable of hitting the United States of America with atom bombs delivered by long range missiles.
As expected, alarm bells started ringing in the United States. President Obama immediately called North Korea’s latest nuclear test a “highly provocative act” that threatens U.S. security and international peace.
Time has come for the humanity to rise and call off the American bluff. If the United States on the pretext of guarding its national security could launch Iraq war without a cause and use indiscriminately drones to kill people in Afghan war, what is wrong in North Korea conducting an underground nuclear test to fortify its national security?
Time also has come for the leaders of other nations not to succumb to American pressure anymore and also to read in between the lines of the American narrative.
If the fear of nuclear proliferation is a rallying point to indulge in condemnation of North Korean nuclear test, then the need is for a compelling rallying point to lift all sanctions against North Korea. Humanity should rise to disallow the United Nations Security Council from becoming a tool in the hands of the United States of America and its allies to institute sanctions of any sort against any country inimical to the United States and certainly not against North Korea.
Terming a country with a different ideology a “rouge country” has become a pastime with the American leaders. The attending pastime of the Americans in power is to induce the pliable leaders of other countries to agree to impose sanctions on those “rouge countries.”
The characteristic of the present times is the notorious game the United States of America plays in the name of establishing “democracy” in other countries but with a definite aim to grab the natural resources of those countries.
At present, the connection between U.S. military intervention and the promotion of capitalist enterprise is all too evident to ignore. Too often and too readily the United States is prepared to engage ‘directly’ or ‘indirectly’ in a paroxysm of violence to enforce its will. It is difficult for Barack Obama to admit that he has become a coveted and sophisticated tool in the hands of US military industrial complex and corporate world to use US military might to enforce the will of the United States.
Obama loves his own oratory and also knows all those behind the scenes who actually benefit from his oratory. By the end of his first term as US President, Obama proved to be the biggest hypocrite of all times in human history. No more evidence is required than the Noble Peace Prize to Barack Obama. There are several ‘think tanks’ in the United States who might dislike this assessment. Their dislike is from two reasons. First they are unable to know how conditioned their own minds are. Second they cannot bear the loss of the existing comfort.
To understand the reaction of China to the latest North Korean nuclear test, one has to understand first what China is. China has the colour of communism but capitalism fills its core. China has charmed the United States to ignore the communist colour for an embrace over the Pacific Ocean. At the same time under the fear of communism, the U.S. creates endless troubles for Cuba which is located geographically right under the belly of the United States.
There is one more angle to China’s growing status. There is evidence in its actions to show China to be expansionist. It has troubled every one of its neighbours and occupied lands of other countries. Tibet is a concrete example. Occupation of Indian Territory in the north east is another example. China can accept North Korea only if it does not pose any threat to the capitalist and expansionist traits of China. Right now, China views the economically weak North Korea as trump card against the United States.
China cannot accept unification of South Korea and North Korea, because the militarily strong North Korea and economically strong South Korea if united could create problems for China’s ambition to become world power. Japan with its intrinsic ability to become nuclear power, and the systematically growing Vietnam after the heroic unification of North and South Vietnams, together with a unified Korea could alter the geopolitical situation around China. It is in this light that one should understand China’s reaction to the latest North Korean nuclear test.
According to China’s foreign ministry, its Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi summoned North Korea’s ambassador to China on Tuesday (Feb 12, 2013) to tell him Beijing was “strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed” to North Korea’s nuclear test.
Reactions to the latest North Korean nuclear test, from the United States, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and China betray their struggle to find their individual positions on the geopolitical chess game. The condemnation by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, NATO, the European Union, and the International Atomic Energy Agency, shows the wide spread deception practiced through these institutions. One is compelled to remember George Orwell, “In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”
Nowhere the universal deceit and arrogance is more evident than in the words of US President. “The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies,” President Obama said in released remarks.
These words of President Obama are a deceit because the United States even under President Obama is spending billions of dollars to perfect its nuclear weapons. Therefore the meaning that flows from the threatening words of Obama is, the United States which wages war against other countries without a cause would not allow any country to pick up ability to fight back the United States. North Korea as a self-respecting nation is developing its ability to fight back the unjust United States.
Just like the people of Iraq suffered more from the sanctions imposed against Iraq than from the alleged despotic rule of Saddam Hussain, the people of North Korea would suffer more from the sanctions than from the vicissitudes of socialistic rule in North Korea.
For these reasons it is meaningless to condemn the latest nuclear test by North Korea. The same reasons also would show that it would be inhuman and unjust to subject North Korea to any sanctions.
Buddhi Kota Subbarao is former Indian Navy Captain with Ph.D. in nuclear technology from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay and advocate of Supreme Court of India. E-mail :
This article was originally posted at

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North Korean Documentary Exposes Western Propaganda


“This is a film about psychological warfare. A specific type of warfare designed to distract, misinform, and anesthetize the brain.”

“Public relations and propaganda are interchangeable and it is the massive public relations industry, that is designed to alter perceptions, reshape reality and manufacture consent.”
Video Posted January 02, 2012

Back story on the video
Here is the formal statement I gave to Federal Police on 16 June 2012:
On a trip to visit family in Seoul in April, I was approached by a man and a woman who claimed to be North Korean defectors. They presented me with a DVD that recently came into their possession and asked me to translate it. They also asked me to post the completed film on the Internet so that it could reach a worldwide audience. I believed what I was told and an agreement was made to protect their identities (and mine).
Despite my concerns about what I was viewing when I returned home, I proceeded to translate and post the film on You Tube because of the film’s extraordinary content. I have now made public my belief that this film was never intended for a domestic audience in the DPRK. Instead, I believe that these people, who presented themselves as ‘defectors’ specifically targeted me because of my reputation as a translator and interpreter.
Furthermore, I now believe these people work for the DPRK. The fact that I have continued to translate and post the film in spite of this belief does not make me complicit in their intention to spread their ideology. I chose to keep posting this film because – regardless of who made it – I believe people should see it because of the issues it raises and I stand by my right to post it for people to share and discuss freely with each other.
I have translated this film, laid in the English voice over and subtitles, and on legal advice have blurred the identity of the presenter and/or blacked out certain elements.
0:00 Introduction
6:54 Creating Ideas & Illusions
16:48 Fear
19:35 Religion
25:00 Beware the 1%
28:10 Emulating Psychosis
31:21 Rewriting History
41:15 The Birth of Propaganda
45:49 Cover Ups and Omissions
54:10 Complicity
58:05 Censorship
1:01:50 International Diplomacy
1:06:14 Television
1:08:11 Advertising
1:14:36 The Cult of Celebrity
1:22:34 Distraction
1:28:01 Terrorism
1:35:00 The Revolution Starts Now

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DPR Korea condemned for weather rocket…and Israel?


DPR Korea condemned for weather rocket...and Israel?. 47084.jpeg
The world community has heaped criticism on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for testing a weather system, in the same way that it heaps criticism on Iran for pursuing a nuclear energy programme. But what about Israel, which sits on nuclear weapons, has ballistic missiles and has violated countless UNSC Resolutions?
What about Israel? Silence, of course. David Cameron launched a murder hunt against Muammar al-Qathafi, after the FUKUS-Axis military aircraft strafed Libya’s water supply “to break their backs” because of false evidence that the Libyan Air Force was strafing civilians. The ones who strafed civilians were the FUKUS-Axis (France, US, UK and Israel). Where was Cameron when Israel was using phosphorous bombs against schools?
Nowhere. Where was Hillary “War Zone” Clinton? Nowhere.
In fact, where is the western community and those who cry foul over Iran and the DPR Korea, extremely preoccupied about violations to the UN Security Council Resolutions (while the FUKUS-Axis themselves have broken several resolutions on multiple occasions), when Israel is concerned?
Let us take a look at Israel’s violations of the UNSC Resolutions, the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions and the corresponding Resolutions condemning Israel by the United Nations Security Council.
Since its independence in 1948, the state of Israel has committed numerous human rights violations, crimes against humanity and breaches of UNSC agreements. So long is the list of condemnations by the UNSC that it runs into pages. Tens of pages. It started just after independence with UNSC Resolution 57 (September 18) complaining against a terrorist attack against the UN Mediator in Palestine and in the first ten years of its existence there were seven more violations of international law (Resolutions 89, 93, 100, 101, 106, 111 and 119).
Why? For evicting thousands of people from their homes arbitrarily, stealing these same homes, conducting air terrorist strikes against civilians in Syria, Jordan, Gaza Strip and Egypt.
During the 1960s, no less than 15 UNSC Resolutions were passed condemning Israel, for terrorist activity occasioning murder, destruction of property, breach of the UN Charter, attack against neighbouring states, violation of human rights and security of civilians, acquisition of territory by war, breach of General Assembly Resolutions 2253 and 2254, illegal annexation of Jerusalem, air terrorist strikes against civilian men, women and children, attacks against Lebanon, an arson attack against the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, described as an “execrable act of desecration and profanation” against a religious site.
The following fifteen pages in A4 format cover tens of further violations. And the world community is complaining because the DPRK launched a weather satellite and Iran is following an energy programme? This, when Israel has nuclear weapons and after senior Israeli citizens have declared that if the State of Israel was in danger, they would trash Europe with nukes before going down?
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

US intensifies pressure on North Korea after rocket launch

By Peter Symonds 

14 April 2012
The Obama administration condemned North Korea’s attempted launch yesterday of a three-stage rocket and suspended the provision of 240,000 tonnes of food aid under an agreement reached with Pyongyang on February 29.
Despite pressure from the US and its allies, North Korea proceeded with the launch, insisting it was putting a small satellite into orbit. Under the February deal, Pyongyang had agreed to suspend nuclear weapons testing and to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to return to the country.
In the event, the rocket, which was closely monitored by the US, Japan and South Korea, broke up less than two minutes after liftoff. The debris fell safely into the Yellow Sea, some 100 kilometres off the South Korean coast. North Korean authorities acknowledged that the satellite had failed to reach its orbit.
The launch coincided with the 100th anniversary on Sunday of the birth of Kim Il-sung, who was the first leader of the Stalinist regime established in the wake of World War II and the Cold War division of the Korean Peninsula. The celebrations were designed to cement the position of his grandson, Kim Jong-un, who has been installed as North Korea’s top leader following the death of his father Kim Jong-il in December.
The American and international media is preoccupied with the potential impact of the unsuccessful launch on the internal politics of the Pyongyang regime. Far more significant, however, is the manner in which the Obama administration has exploited the issue to intensify its pressure on North Korea, as part of its broader efforts to undermine Chinese influence throughout Asia.
Despite the rocket failure, White House spokesperson Jay Carney branded North Korea’s “provocative action” as a threat to regional security and a breach of international law. In fact, North Korea had gone to some lengths to demonstrate that it was not conducting a missile test, inviting around 50 foreign journalists to the launch site.
At Washington’s instigation, the UN Security Council met in emergency session yesterday and issued a statement that “deplored” the launch as a breach of punitive UN resolutions imposed after previous rocket firings in 2006 and 2009. American ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, who is currently Security Council president, indicated that further measures against Pyongyang were under discussion. “We think a credible reaction is important,” she said.
At a G8 foreign ministers summit on Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned: “Pyongyang has a clear choice: It can pursue peace and reap the benefits of closer ties with the international community, including the United States; or it can continue to face pressure and isolation.”
Tensions are set to intensify amid leaked claims by South Korean authorities that North Korea is preparing for another nuclear test.
The chief target of Washington’s campaign is not Pyongyang, but Beijing. The dismal failure of the rocket launch underscores the fact that North Korea poses no real danger to the US or its allies. Yet Washington continues to inflate the threat as a means of putting pressure on China.
Speaking in South Korea last month, President Obama accused China of not doing enough to bring its North Korean ally into line with US demands. “What I have said to them [the Chinese] consistently is rewarding bad behaviour, turning a blind eye to deliberate provocations… that’s obviously not working.”
The Chinese regime is well aware that the US is exploiting North Korea’s rocket launches and nuclear weapons tests to maintain tensions in North East Asia and justify the continued presence of American military bases in Japan and South Korea. While attempting to push Pyongyang to moderate its actions, Beijing wants to avoid a political and economic crisis in impoverished North Korea that would destabilise the region.
Beijing brokered six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia in a bid to defuse tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program. China’s UN ambassador Li Baodong declared this week: “We think the peace and stability of the region is really important. We have got to do everything possible to defuse tension rather than inflame the situation there.”
Provocatively, both Japan and South Korea announced intentions to shoot down the missile or any of its parts that entered their airspace. The Japanese military deployed land-based PAC-3 interceptor missiles to locations in Tokyo and the Okinawa, Ishigaki and Miyako islands, and sent three Aegis-equipped destroyers to the East China Sea.
It is highly unlikely that South Korea and Japan would have activated their “missile shields” without a green light from the Obama administration. If either country had shot down the North Korean missile, tensions in North East Asia would have escalated dramatically. By branding North Korea as a “rogue state,” the US has a convenient pretext for the development of anti-ballistic missile systems with South Korea, Japan and Australia.
In late March, US assistant defence secretary for global strategic affairs, Madelyn Creedon, reiterated the Pentagon’s plans for such missile systems in the Middle East and Asia, in concert with its regional allies. The “missile shields” in Asia are not aimed against North Korea, which is yet to test a successful long-range missile, but against China’s nuclear arsenal.
In response to Creedon’s statements, an editorial in China’s hard-line Global Times called for China to “upgrade its nuclear weapon capability due to the possible threats posed by the US system. Specifically, China can improve its nuclear weapons in quantity and quality as well as develop offensive nuclear-powered submarines. China’s ballistic missiles should be able to break the interception capability of the US system.”
While the Obama administration routinely blames North Korea for “provocative actions” and “bad behaviour,” the chief responsibility for heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in North East Asia rests with Washington.
In 2001, the Bush administration effectively tore up the so-called Agreed Framework reached by President Bill Clinton with Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear facilities in return for two power reactors, other aid and the normalisation of relations. As the confrontation worsened, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, expelled IAEA inspectors and in 2006 and 2009 conducted two nuclear tests. A deal brokered through the six-party talks broke down in late 2008, with Pyongyang accusing Washington of changing its terms.
The Obama administration maintained Bush’s hard-line stance toward North Korea and encouraged South Korea to do the same. Following artillery exchanges between the two Koreas in November 2010 involving South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island, the US conducted a series of provocative joint naval exercises with South Korea in waters that are strategically sensitive for both North Korea and China.
The Obama administration’s confrontational approach in North East Asia is part of its broader “pivot” to Asia: the strengthening of US alliances and strategic ties throughout the region, a build-up of US military capacity in South East Asia and Australia, and an aggressive diplomatic intervention into sensitive issues such as territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
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