Category Archives: North Korea

The Real Reasons for the Crisis on the Korean Peninsula

By Alexander VORONTSOV
April 14, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“SCF” – Tensions are rising on the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has decided to close the industrial complex in Kaesong, which is a joint enterprise zone with South Korea, and has suggested that foreign embassies evacuate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for reasons of safety. Most significant in this series of steps has been the decision of the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party, held in March 2013, regarding legal confirmation of North Korea’s nuclear status and the decision of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea «On further strengthening the status of a country in possession of nuclear weapons for the purposes of self-defence».
The majority of media, while painting a vivid picture of North Korea’s militancy, is not trying to understand the reasons why the conflict on Korean soil is currently escalating so dramatically. When they do try, they usually name Pyongyang as the instigator of all the troubles, stressing that it was North Korea’s third nuclear test that triggered the «nightmare». 
Consequently, a pressing need has arisen to examine the real, underlying causes of what is commonly referred to as «the Korean problem». 
In short, the initial cause is the unresolved outcome of the Korean War (1950-1953). This year marks 60 years since the end of the war and a peace agreement between its participants has still not been signed Only one Armistice Agreement exists (possibly on paper only these days), so a temporary cessation of hostilities, in other words. More importantly, there are no diplomatic relations between the main warring parties, the USA and North Korea.
The anomalous nature of a situation like this is obvious. Pyongyang has repeatedly suggested that this astonishing anachronism of the cold war be removed, but in vain: Washington stubbornly refuses to both normalise intergovernmental relations and replace the Armistice Agreement with a fundamental document that establishes lasting peace on the peninsula. Effectively, the US is proving that they have «hostile intentions» – as they are called in Pyongyang – not in words, but in deeds. A peaceful co-existence with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea does not figure in America’s plans. Rather, they are looking to eliminate the state. 
This is why there is a predetermined state of permanent conflict on the Korean Peninsula, a cyclical development of the situation from acute crisis to relative «remission» and back again. The actions of the West with regard to North Korea result in a vicious catch-22. Calls to stop the nuclear programme, thereby stopping the violation of the principles of the non-proliferation regime of weapons of mass destruction, are often used to cover up the realisation of a hidden agenda – regime change in North Korea…
As a result, in instances where Pyongyang chooses the bargaining model of relations with the international community and is prepared to agree to mutual compromises with regard to its concerns (the non-proliferation dossier), the West does not see this as an independent decision by those in the north, but as a display of weakness, a triumph of its policy of pressure. Following such logic, Washington and its allies are not in a hurry to assess steps taken by Pyongyang according to their merit, using them in the interests of constructive cooperation and a way to advance the settlement of the Korean Peninsula’s nuclear issue; rather they act the complete opposite. Based on the false understanding that North Korea began to make concessions under external pressure, the West considers it necessary to increase this pressure in order to put the final squeeze on its opponent. And now every time the policy with a false bottom fails.Convinced of the true intentions of its partners, Pyongyang, with a view to cooperating with them, but in no way capitulating, is stopping playing other people’s games and is taking steps to strengthen its national defence capabilities. As a result, instead of the further concessions that were expected and the long-awaited collapse of North Korea, the West is being responded to with new missile and nuclear tests.
The chronology of the current crisis is well-known.
The successful launch of a North Korean satellite took place on 12 December 2012. The UN Security Council chose the harshest way to respond in the form of Resolution 2087 (22.01.2013), as opposed to a similar occasion in April 2012, when the Security Council confined itself to a statement by its chairman. North Korea strongly disagreed with this decision as well as America’s logic, according to which «its own launches are satellites, while other people’s are long range ballistic missiles», and announced that «the six-party talks and the Joint Statement of 19 September no longer exist». As a «sign of protest», Pyongyang carried out its third nuclear test on 12 February 2012, having pointed out in a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that there have been «more than 2,000 nuclear tests and 9,000 satellite launches» in the world, «but the UN Security Council has never passed a resolution prohibiting nuclear tests or satellite launches». In response, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2094 on 7 March 2013, placing the strictest sanctions on North Korea that the country has experienced in the past few decades.
What has been the reason for the rapid worsening of the confrontation in 2013? There are many reasons. Among the main ones, Pyongyang’s opponents usually cite the following: the display of inexperience, immaturity and adventurism by North Korea’s young leader, the desire to intimidate Seoul, by forcing them to believe that nuclear weapons are being acquired, North Korea has drastically altered the military balance on the peninsula in its favour, has gained immunity against the actions of the South and is now able to intimidate and carry out «military provocations» against the Republic of Korea unpunished. Such attitudes are now widespread and are consequently supported by South Korean public opinion.
In the USA’s political and expert communities, voices have risen sharply demanding an immediate and decisive shift of policy emphasis in favour of adopting measures aimed at forcing regime change in North Korea by dramatically increasing external pressure, as well as isolation and the encouragement of internal opposition. At the official level, the issue of undermining the standard of living of the North Korean population, amongst other things, has been openly discussed.
Advocates of these kinds of actions prefer not to notice that North Korea’s nuclear tests at the turn of 2012-2013 were, to a large extent, in response to the West’s reluctance to open up a constructive dialogue with Pyongyang. You will recall that after North Korea announced its withdrawal from the six-party talks in April 2009, the five remaining members declared that finding a way to convince Pyongyang to return to the talks was a priority. And lo and behold, when this goal was almost achieved, in large part thanks to the diplomatic efforts of Russia and China, and the North Korean government during 2011-2012 repeatedly announced that it was prepared to continue its involvement in the six-party diplomatic process, Washington, Tokyo and Seoul, contrary to their own declarations, began to put forward preconditions and essentially did their best to delay the recommencement of negotiations for as long as possible. In so doing, they once again revealed their true aims: extending the policy of «strategic patience» which many American experts have called a variation on North Korea’s «strategy of containment», so increasing its isolation with the ultimate aim of its regime change. Having received this perfectly clear signal from its opponents, and taking into account, including the examples of Libya and Syria, the West’s growing inclination to use military force to overthrow undesirable regimes, Pyongyang considered itself free in its choice of means and undertook the necessary measures to strengthen its national defence capabilities.
This was not the only reason pushing Pyongyang to take such steps, of course. It is more than likely that the desire of the North Korean government to make up for the unpleasant aftertaste that arose in society following the failed launch of the satellite on 13 April and the reality of the space race between North and South Korea also played its part. By sending its first satellite into scheduled orbit on 12 December 2012, North Korea won the competition to breakthrough into space. This was taken rather badly in the South, where they carried out the successful launch of their own satellite one and a half months later.
At one and the same time, these actions built up the spiral of conflict which has now placed the Korean Peninsula on the brink of war.
In order to prevent the situation deteriorating further, all the parties involved need to have self-restraint, first and foremost, and the utmost concentration to search for ways to resume political contacts.

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Engineering Consent For Attack On N Korea?

Pentagon: North Korea has Capacity to Make Nuclear Warhead for Ballistic Missile
By Ernesto Londoño
April 12, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Washington Post” – North Korea probably has a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile, according to a new assessment by the Pentagon’s intelligence arm that comes amid growing alarm over Pyongyang’s warmongering.
The conclusion by the Defense Intelligence Agency said the weapon would have “low reliability,” but the disclosure during a congressional hearing Thursday is likely to raise fresh concerns about North Korea’s capabilities and intentions.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) read what he said was an unclassified section of the DIA report while questioning Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a session of the House Armed Services Committee. Lamborn said the DIA had concluded “with moderate confidence” that Pyongyang “has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles; however, the reliability will be low.”
The reference to reliability presumably reflected concerns about the accuracy of the ballistic missiles in North Korea’s arsenal as well as the technical difficulties of miniaturizing nuclear devices.
James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, issued a statement Thursday night saying the DIA assessment was not the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community. “North Korea has not yet demonstrated the full range of capabilities necessary for a nuclear armed missile,” he said.
Still, nuclear weapons experts said the assessment is the most specific attributed to the U.S. government on North Korea’s ambitions to develop a nuclear weapon that could reach U.S. troops deployed in the region.
“This is the clearest, most direct statement that North Korea has a miniaturized warhead,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a North Korea expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. He said, however, that the finding is “consistent with a series of statements that have been made in the past” by U.S. government officials.
In his first remarks since the new tensions on the Korean Peninsula, President Obama called on North Korea on Thursday to end its belligerence. Obama also pledged to take “all necessary steps” to protect the United States from any North Korean aggression.
“Now is the time for North Korea to end the kind of belligerent approach that they’ve been taking and to try to lower temperatures,” Obama said after an Oval Office meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
U.S. intelligence officials said Thursday that they believe North Korea’s rhetoric represents an effort by the country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, to show he is firmly in control, and should not be construed as a genuine appetite for war. They cautioned, however, that discerning the young leader’s intentions is difficult. Kim took power in December 2011 after the death of his father, and U.S. officials have limited evidence to assess his thinking.
“I think his primary objective is to consolidate, affirm his power,” Clapper told the House intelligence committee. “Much of the rhetoric — in fact, all of the — of the belligerent rhetoric of late, I think, is designed for both an internal and an external audience.”
U.S. officials take the threats seriously enough to have beefed up missile defense systems on the West Coast and on the Pacific island of Guam. Last month, Adm. James Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that North Korea’s KN-08 missile “probably does have the range to reach the United States.”
Lamborn, who failed to draw a substantive response from Dempsey, said in an interview after the hearing that he chose to slip the assessment into the public domain because he worries the Obama administration is not investing enough in missile defense.
“My whole goal in bringing this to light was to make sure we don’t cut missile defense spending,” the congressman said. “At the worst possible time, the president’s budget does exactly that.”
Lamborn said he had great confidence in U.S. missile defense technology,but that Winnefeld’s statement and the DIA conclusion “taken together represent a serious potential threat.”
Lamborn said he received the one-sentence conclusion of the DIA’s assessment from a contact at the Pentagon intelligence agency. Lamborn said the portion he cited was an unclassified excerpt of the classified report. His office shared it with The Washington Post.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said he could not discuss the report in detail because it was classified, except for the passage the congressman disclosed.
Little added, however, that “it would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in the passage.”
Dempsey was reluctant to comment on the report, telling the congressman, “I can’t touch that one,” and noting that “it hasn’t been released.”
North Korea tested a long-range rocket in December, and two months later conducted an underground nuclear test. The U.N. Security Council tightened economic sanctions against North Korea in response, and since then, the government has threatened war against the United States and South Korea.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry plans to hold crisis talks with South Korean officials when he arrives in Seoul on Friday and follow up by lobbying China to toughen its warnings to the North, U.S. officials traveling with Kerry said.
“We have known for some time that North Korea is preparing a launch of missiles,” said a senior State Department official.
Anne Gearan in Kyrgyzstan and Scott Wilson contributed to this report.
Pentagon Finds Nuclear Strides by North Korea
By THOM SHANKER, DAVID E. SANGER and ERIC SCHMITT
April 12, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“NYTimes” – WASHINGTON — A new assessment by the Pentagon’s intelligence arm has concluded for the first time, with “moderate confidence,” that North Korea has learned how to make a nuclear weapon small enough to be delivered by a ballistic missile.
The assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency, which has been distributed to senior administration officials and members of Congress, cautions that the weapon’s “reliability will be low,” apparently a reference to the North’s difficulty in developing accurate missiles or, perhaps, to the huge technical challenges of designing a warhead that can survive the rigors of flight and detonate on a specific target.
The assessment’s existence was disclosed Thursday by Representative Doug Lamborn, Republican of Colorado, three hours into a budget hearing of the House Armed Services Committee with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. General Dempsey declined to comment on the assessment because of classification issues.
But late Thursday, the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., released a statement saying that the assessment did not represent a consensus of the nation’s intelligence community and that “North Korea has not yet demonstrated the full range of capabilities necessary for a nuclear armed missile.”
In another sign of the administration’s deep concern over the release of the assessment, the Pentagon press secretary, George Little, issued a statement that sought to qualify the conclusion from the Defense Intelligence Agency, which has primary responsibility for monitoring the missile capabilities of adversary nations but which a decade ago was among those that argued most vociferously — and incorrectly — that Iraq had nuclear weapons.
“It would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in the passage,” Mr. Little said.
A spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, Kim Min-seok, said early Friday that despite various assessments. “we have doubt that North Korea has reached the stage of miniaturization.”
Nonetheless, outside experts said that the report’s conclusions could explain why Mr. Hagel has announced in recent weeks that the Pentagon was bolstering long-range antimissile defenses in Alaska and California, intended to protect the West Coast, and rushing another antimissile system, originally not set for deployment until 2015, to Guam.
Also Thursday, Mr. Clapper sought to tamp down fears that North Korean rhetoric could lead to an armed clash with the United States, South Korea and regional allies, and a high South Korean official called for dialogue with North Korea.
Mr. Clapper told a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee that in his experience, two other confrontations with the North — the seizure of the Navy spy ship Pueblo in 1968 and the death of two military officers in a tree-cutting episode in the demilitarized zone in 1976 — stoked much greater tensions between the two countries. The statement by the South Korean official, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae, was televised nationally, and it represented a considerable softening in tone by President Park Geun-hye’s government.
Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, was scheduled to arrive in Seoul on Friday and to travel to China and Japan after that. He has two principal goals on the last leg of a six-nation trip: to encourage China to use its influence to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program while reassuring South Korea and Japan that the United States remains committed to their defense.
The report issued by the Defense Intelligence Agency last month was titled “Dynamic Threat Assessment 8099: North Korea Nuclear Weapons Program.” Its executive summary reads: “D.I.A. assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles; however the reliability will be low.”
A spokesman for Mr. Lamborn, Catherine Mortensen, said the material he quoted during the hearing was unclassified. Pentagon officials said later that while the report remained classified, the one-paragraph finding had been declassified but not released. Republicans in Congress have led efforts to increase money for missile defense, and Mr. Lamborn has been critical of the Obama administration for failing to finance it adequately.
North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests, including one this year, and shot a ballistic missile as far as the Philippines in December. American and South Korean intelligence agencies believe that another test — perhaps of a midrange missile called the Musudan that can reach Japan, South Korea and almost as far as Guam — may be conducted in the coming days, to celebrate the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder. At the Pentagon, there is particular concern about another missile, yet untested, called the KN-08, which may have significantly longer range.
“North Korea has already demonstrated capabilities that threaten the United States and the security environment in East Asia,” Mr. Clapper told the House Intelligence Committee.
He added that “we believe Pyongyang has already taken initial steps” toward fielding what he called a “road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile.” He appeared to be referring to the KN-08, provided to North Korea by a Russian company and based on the design of a Russian submarine-launched nuclear missile.
Mr. Clapper referred to “extremely belligerent, aggressive public rhetoric towards the United States and South Korea” by the North’s young president, Kim Jong-un. And he made it clear that getting inside Mr. Kim’s head, and understanding his goals, had been particularly frustrating.
He suggested that while Mr. Kim’s grandfather and father had clear motives — to periodically threaten the world with nuclear crises, then wait to get paid in cash, food or equipment to lower the rhetoric — the younger Mr. Kim apparently intended to demonstrate both to North Koreans and to the international community that North Korea deserves respect as a nuclear power.
“His primary objective is to consolidate, affirm his power,” Mr. Clapper told the House committee, adding that “the belligerent rhetoric of late, I think, is designed for both an internal and an external audience.”
Asked if the North Korean leader had an “endgame,” Mr. Clapper said, “I don’t think, really, he has much of an endgame other than to somehow elicit recognition from the world and specifically, most importantly, the United States, of North Korea as a rival on an international scene, as a nuclear power, and that that entitles him to negotiation and to accommodation, and presumably for aid.”
Other officials have said, in background interviews, that Mr. Kim is trying to get North Korea into the same position as Pakistan: an acknowledged nuclear power that the West has given up hopes of disarming.
Mr. Clapper appeared with the heads of several other intelligence agencies, including Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn of the Defense Intelligence Agency; the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III; and the C.I.A. director, John O. Brennan, to present their annual assessment of the threats facing the nation. The same officials briefed the Senate Intelligence Committee last month.
Even as they sought to explain the North Korean leader’s recent bellicose threats, which have prompted American and South Korean troops to increase alert levels, Mr. Clapper and other top intelligence officials acknowledged that United States spy agencies do not know much about Mr. Kim.
“Kim Jong-un has not been in power all that long, so we don’t have an extended track record for him like we did with his father and grandfather,” Mr. Brennan said. “That’s why we are watching this very closely and to see whether or not what he is doing is consistent with past patterns of North Korean behavior.”
Mr. Clapper added that with such little information on Mr. Kim, “there’s no telling how he’s going to behave.”
“He impresses me as impetuous, not as inhibited as his father became about taking aggressive action,” he added. “The pattern with his father was to be provocative and then to sort of back off. We haven’t seen that yet with Kim Jong-un.”
As for what might change the North’s posture, Mr. Clapper pointed to China’s new leadership. “I think probably if anyone has real leverage over the North Koreans, it is China,” he said.
Michael R. Gordon contributed reporting from Manas, Kyrgyzstan, and Choe Sang-hun from Seoul.
See also
Kerry: A nuclear-armed North Korea is “unacceptable” : U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a stark warning to North Korea on Friday not to test-fire a mid-range missile, while rejecting a new U.S. intelligence report suggesting significant progress in the communist regime’s nuclear weapons program.

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US threatens North Korea while signaling possible talks

By Alex Lantier 
6 April 2013
Fears of war remained high on the Korean peninsula, amid continuing military exercises by both the United States and North Korea, after revelations Thursday that the crisis was following a “playbook” of US escalations prepared months ago by the Obama administration.
Yesterday, Washington released pictures of American F-22 stealth fighters participating in the ongoing “Foal Eagle” US-South Korean military exercises. In recent weeks, it has sent guided missile warships and flown nuclear-capable B-2 and B-52 heavy bombers to Korea, claiming this was intended to prove US “nuclear deterrence” capabilities.
Citing intercepted communications and satellite imagery, US officials said that the North Korean regime in Pyongyang was preparing to launch a medium-range Musudan missile from its eastern coast. South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told the parliament in Seoul that signaled an imminent “military drill.”
US officials told CNN that they also believed the missile launch was a test, and not preparation to launch an attack at targets in the United States or US-allied states like Japan or South Korea. The Musudan missile reportedly has a range of 2,500 miles, meaning that it can reach as far as Japan, but cannot hit Hawaii, let alone the mainland United States.
Nonetheless, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stressed that North Korean threats to Guam, Hawaii, and the US mainland had to be taken “seriously.”
In a column titled “No, North Korea can’t hit Hawaii,” James Hardy—the Asia-Pacific editor for Jane’s Defense Weekly —effectively rebutted Hagel’s claims. Hardy wrote, “Unless there has been a miraculous turnaround among North Korea’s strategic forces, there is little to no chance that it could successfully land a missile on Guam, Hawaii, or anywhere else outside the Korean Peninsula that US forces may be stationed.”
Commenting on North Korea’s missile program, Hardy noted the likelihood that Washington “is using its existence as an excuse to ramp up their Asia-Pacific-facing missile defenses.” He noted that this would “tie into Washington’s ‘pivot’ plans for the Asia-Pacific, but would not be lost on China, which has already signaled its lack of enthusiasm for any such moves.”
The official account, parroted by the Western media, which presents US actions as a response to threatened attack from Pyongyang, is fraudulent. In reality, the North Korean regime—isolated, spied upon, vastly outclassed militarily by the US and its allies and dependent on China for key food and fuel supplies—faces a relentless campaign of escalation led by Washington.
While this poses a very real risk of a clash along the highly-militarized North Korean-South Korean border, escalating into a confrontation between the US and China, Pyongyang is hardly capable of directly threatening the United States. Rather, Washington is using this crisis to whip Pyongyang and the Chinese regime in Beijing into line.
China has emerged as the most powerful country blocking US imperialism’s global plans, holding massive US debt and blocking UN actions aimed at justifying war against Syria and Iran. Since the Korean War, a keystone of its foreign policy has been using North Korea as a buffer between US-backed South Korea and its own territory. In pressing the newly-installed, divided Chinese Communist Party leadership on the North Korean issue, Washington hopes to broadly turn around Chinese foreign policy in its favor.
Beijing is reportedly enforcing at least some UN sanctions it helped pass last month against Pyongyang, thus intensifying the crisis of the North Korean regime.
US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden called on Pyongyang “to heed President Obama’s call to choose the path of peace and come into compliance with its international obligations. Threats and provocations will not bring North Korea the security, international respect, and economic development it seeks.”
In comments to CNN yesterday, anonymous US Defense Department officials made clear that, while they were maintaining military pressure on Pyongyang, they also aimed to create more advantageous conditions for negotiations.
One official said, “We are trying to turn the volume down.” According to CNN, this change “referred to public statements by the Obama administration, instead of how US military hardware was being deployed in the region.” That is, aggressive deployments of US bombers and warships amid the two-month-long Foal Eagle military exercises would continue.
However, the official explained, “We are absolutely trying to ratchet back the rhetoric. We became part of the cycle. We allowed that to happen.”
After effectively admitting that Washington’s military gestures had ratcheted up the tensions in Korea, US officials absurdly implied that this was not a deliberate policy and that they had been surprised by the outcome. Citing its defense sources, CNN wrote that “some Pentagon officials were surprised at how US news releases and statements on North Korea were generating world headlines and therefore provoking a Pyongyang response.”
Another US defense official said, “We accused the North Koreans of amping things up, now we are worried that we did the same thing.”
These claims are simply not credible. Washington has been deploying heavy bombers and other high-tech forces to Korea, announcing that they were aimed at proving US nuclear capabilities, implicitly threatening nuclear war that could annihilate North Korea and involve the US in a war with China. It was obvious that this would massively escalate military tensions in Asia and “generate world headlines.”
Yesterday, North Korea warned select foreign embassies in Pyongyang that it could not guarantee their safety in the event of war, suggesting they consider evacuation. The Russian and British embassies decided not to evacuate their staff, however.
In a statement broadcast Thursday by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency, the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) said, “No one can say whether a war will break out or not and whether it will break out today or tomorrow. The responsibility for this grave situation rests entirely with the US administration and military warmongers keen to encroach upon the DPRK’s sovereignty and bring down its dignified social system with brigandish logic.”
In fact, the reactionary Pyongyang bureaucracy would be eager to re-establish ties based on exploiting the cheap labor of North Korean workers to build up an export industry. However, it has not been able to negotiate an agreement with all the major powers on how to carry out such a shift in policy, given the explosive geo-strategic conflicts in the region. Moreover, there are fears in sections of the regime, notably the army, that the abandonment of Pyongyang’s current Songun “military-first” policy would come at their expense.
It appears that the US escalation was in part also aimed at showing South Korea and Japan that Washington remains committed to exercising military hegemony in Asia. One US military official told CNN, “Eyebrows started to go up when it was clear that Foal Eagle was going to be protected from the budget cuts of sequestration”—a series of US government spending cuts that went into effect in March.
That is, while trillions of dollars in long-term cuts were being forced on American workers, causing mass furloughs and cuts in essential social services, Washington was careful to maintain its ability to wage a devastating war in Asia.
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[5 April 2013]

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Washington’s “Playbook” on Provoking North Korea

By Stephen Gowans
April 05, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – In an April 3 Wall Street Journal article, “U.S. dials back on Korean show of force,” reporters Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes revealed that the White House approved a detailed plan, called ‘the playbook,’ to ratchet up tension with North Korea during the Pentagon’s war games with South Korea.
The war games, which are still in progress, and involve the deployment of a considerable amount of sophisticated US military hardware to within striking distance of North Korea, are already a source of considerable tension in Pyongyang, and represent what Korean specialist Tim Beal dubs “sub-critical” warfare.
The two-month-long war games, directed at and carried out in proximity to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, force the North Korean military onto high alert, an exhausting and cripplingly expensive state of affairs for a small country whose economy has already been crippled by wide-ranging sanctions. North Korea estimates that sanctions and US military aggression have taken an incalculable toll on its economy. [1]
The playbook was developed by the Pentagon’s Pacific Command, to augment the war games that began in early March, and was discussed at several high-level White House meetings, according to the Wall Street Journal reporters.
The plan called for low-altitude B-52 bomber flights over the Korean peninsula, which happened on March 8. A few weeks later, two nuclear-capable B-2 bombers dropped dummy payloads on a South Korean missile range. The flights were deliberately carried out in broad daylight at low altitude, according to a U.S. defense official, to produce the intended minatory effect. “We could fly it at night, but the point was for them to see it.” [2]
A few days ago, the Pentagon deployed two advanced F-22 warplanes to South Korea, also part of the ‘play-book’ plan to intimidate Pyongyang.
According to Entous and Barnes, the White House knew that the North Koreans would react by threatening to retaliate against the United States and South Korea.
In a March 29 article, Barnes wrote that “Defense officials acknowledged that North Korean military officers are particularly agitated by bomber flights because of memories of the destruction wrought from the air during the Korean War.” [3] During the war, the United States Air Force demolished every target over one story. It also dropped more napalm than it did later in Vietnam. [4]
The reality, then, is exactly opposite of the narrative formulated in the Western mass media. Washington hasn’t responded to North Korean belligerence and provocations with a show of force. On the contrary, Washington deliberately planned a show of force in order to elicit an angry North Korean reaction, which was then labelled “belligerence” and “provocation.” The provocations, coldly and calculating planned, have come from Washington. North Korea’s reactions have been defensive.
Pressed to explain why North Korea, a military pipsqueak in comparison to the United States, would deliberately provoke a military colossus, Western journalists, citing unnamed analysts, have concocted a risible fiction about Pyongyang using military threats as a bargaining chip to wheedle aid from the West, as a prop to its faltering “mismanaged” economy. The role of sanctions and the unceasing threat of US military intervention are swept aside as explanations for North Korea’s economic travails.
However, Entous’s and Barnes’s revelations now make the story harder to stick. The North Koreans haven’t developed a nuclear program, poured money into their military, and made firm their resolve to meet US and South Korean aggression head-on, in order to inveigle aid from Washington. They’ve done so to defend themselves against coldly calculated provocations.
According to the Wall Street Journal staffers, the White House has dialled back its provocations for now, for fear they could lead to a North Korean “miscalculation.” In street language, Washington challenged the DPRK to a game of chicken, and broke it off, when it became clear the game might not unfold as planned.
Stephen Gowans blogs at “What’s left” – http://gowans.wordpress.com/
Notes
1. According to the Korean Central News Agency, March 26, 2013, “The amount of human and material damage done to the DPRK till 2005 totaled at least 64,959 854 million U.S. dollars.”
2. Jay Solomon, Julian E. Barnes and Alastair Gale, “North Korea warned”, The Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2013
3. Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. pledges further show of force in Korea”, The Wall Street journal, March 29, 2013
4. Bruce Cumings. The Korean War: A History. Modern Library. 2010.

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Peter King: U.S. Could Preemptively Attack North Korea


“I believe we have the right to take preemptive action,” he said 

Video

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y, says that the U.S. could preemptively launch a strike on North Korea, if provoked. “If we have good reason to believe there’s going to be an attack, I believe we have the right to take preemptive action to protect ourselves,” he said on CNN.

“I don’t think we have to wait until Americans are killed or wounded or injured in any way,” King continued. “I’m not saying we should be rushing into war, don’t get me wrong, but if we have solid evidence that North Korea’s going to take action, then I think we have a moral obligation and an absolute right to defend ourselves.”

Posted April 04, 2013
 
See also
U.S. Sends Weapons for Preemptive Attack in Vicinity of S. Korea: The U.S. is increasing the danger of war, ceaselessly introducing lots of nuclear war hardware into south Korea and in the vicinity of the Korean Peninsula in a bid to bring dark clouds of a nuclear war to hang over Korea.
S. Korean Puppet Army Incites War Fever: The warmongers are scheming to stage landing drill and tactical drill targeting the coastal areas of the DPRK and an actual mobile firing drill of motorized units in league with the U.S. Marines.
U.S. Chemical Battalion’s Redeployment in S. Korea Condemned by CPRK Secretariat: The 23rd Chemical Battalion of the U.S. Army based in Seattle City, Washington State was recently redeployed in the U.S. Second Division in south Korea. – It was withdrawn to the U.S. mainland. This battalion mercilessly killed many people in the Korean war and other wars.
Kim Jong Un’s Order Is Final Decision to End Showdown with U.S.: The U.S. prodded the UN Security Council into cooking up “resolutions on sanctions” against the DPRK, labeling its satellite launch, a legitimate right of a sovereign state, as a “provocation”. The U.S. is threatening the DPRK with a nuclear war.
North Korea clears its military to attack US with nukes: North Korea warned Thursday that its military has been cleared to attack the US using “smaller, lighter and diversified” nuclear weapons, while the US said it will strengthen regional protection by deploying a missile defense system to Guam.
North Korea moves missile to coast as nuclear crisis escalates: North Korea has moved a missile with “considerable range” to its east coast, South Korea said Thursday as Russia warned that Pyongyang’s decision to pursue a nuclear program “radically complicates” the prospect of resuming international talks.
US Protection Racket Root of Korea Conflict: Op-Ed The conflict emanates from Washington and is perpetuated by Washington. Why? To justify what would otherwise be seen as simply outrageous US militarism in the Asia Pacific.

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US Protection Racket Root of Korea Conflict

By Finian Cunningham
April 03, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“PTV” – The best way to understand the seemingly reckless, recurring threat of nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula is this: the East Asian region is being run like a Mafia protection racket. And the criminal Mafia is the US.
The conflict emanates from Washington and is perpetuated by Washington. Why? To justify what would otherwise be seen as simply outrageous US militarism in the Asia Pacific hemisphere, and in particular a criminally aggressive agenda towards the main geopolitical targets of Washington – China and Russia. 
Korea’s conflict is not primarily about North and South “enemy states”. It is, as it has been for the past 68 years since the end of World War II, about Washington using military force to criminally assert its hegemony on the global stage.
But you wouldn’t know this from a casual reading of the Western news media. No, we are told over and over again that the US is “protecting” South Korea and its other Asian allies. The military presence of the US is “serving” as a “deterrent” to aggression from a “sinister” North Korea. In this depiction, the US is the good guy, while North Korea is the menacing reprobate that is a scourge on everybody’s well-being and security. Kim Jong-un is the embodiment of the Axis of Evil.
That so-called “quality” news media such as the BBC, New York Times and Guardian can get away with seriously presenting this situation in terms portraying the US as a benevolent force is an astounding feat of reality inversion and brainwashed mind control. The irony is that such media implicitly mock North Korea as a Stalinist “Big Brother” state, where critical thought and expression are forbidden. Yet, these media display the very same habit of mental conformity that they disparage North Korea for. 
As noted above, the only way of properly interpreting the recent weeks of threat and counter-threat of all-out war in Korea is to recall scenes from the classic Mafia movie, The Godfather. You know the drill. The mobster goes around the neighborhood demanding loyalty, respect and tributes “for protection”. If the residents don’t conform to the racket, then the boss arranges self-fulfilling violence to rain down on those who dare to reject his magnanimous “protection”. 
The exact same arrangement applies in Korea under the tutelage of the US. The Peninsula was unilaterally partitioned in 1945 by Washington into North and South statelets because the US could not abide the fact that the Korean population at that time was strongly anti-imperialist and yearning for socialist democracy. That egalitarian sentiment helped the Koreans resist the occupying Japanese imperialists prior to and during World War II. 
Tellingly, in order to assert its hegemony over Korea and the Asia Pacific, the US worked the neighborhood over assiduously in order to defeat the popular movement for independence and democracy that the Korean people exhibited so boldly. Washington achieved this by installing pro-Japanese collaborators as the rulers of newly formed South Korea. Think about that one. The US fought a war allegedly to defeat fascism and imperialism, only to immediately collude with the same political forces to defeat Korean democracy.
The dropping of the atomic bombs by Washington on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was part and parcel of American efforts to demarcate a postwar hegemony in the Asia Pacific to the Soviet Union and China – and this is why Korea was also fractured into two alien states that were then precipitated into war between 1950-53.
That war – in which a third of the northern Korean population were exterminated by American indiscriminate carpet-bombing and napalm incineration – has never officially ended. The armistice signed in 1953 under Washington’s dictate is technically only a ceasefire. For decades, North Korea’s demand for a full peace treaty has been repeatedly rejected by Washington and its South Korean client state. In other words, Washington has retained the implicit prerogative to resume its aerial bombardment of the North Korean population at any time it chooses. That constitutes a constant threat, or a policy of state terrorism by Washington. 
The threat from the US towards the Korean population has and continues to include nuclear annihilation. During the Korean War, the US air force would regularly fly nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over the Peninsula. People on the ground would recognize the aircraft, but they did not know what the operational intent was. Can you imagine the terrorism that this conveyed? – barely five years after the US vaporized the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and at the same time that US military were compelling Koreans to live in caves as the only way of escaping mass destruction from conventional bombing. 
This same thuggish behaviour by the US government is consistent with its authorization during this past week for the flying of nuclear-capable B-2 and B-52 bombers over the Korean Peninsula. The dropping of “inert bombs” by these aerial monsters has to be seen as a heinous calculation in Washington aimed at heightening the terrorism. 
Yet, absurdly, the Western propaganda organs, otherwise called news, portray this American state terrorism as “protection”. 
The New York Times, for example, quoted one so-called “expert” as explaining North Korea’s response to the latest American provocation by saying: “The North Korean populace has to be regularly reminded that their country is surrounded by scheming enemies. Otherwise, they might start asking politically dangerous questions.” 
The laugh about this brain-washed expert thinking, and the New York 
Times promoting it, is that the people of Korea are indeed surrounded by a scheming enemy – the US – and if the wider international public and media were to start thinking about that fact then there would be “politically dangerous questions” such as: what gives the US the right to conduct annual military “war games” off and on the Korean Peninsula for the past six decades, including the deployment of nuclear annihilation? 
The people of Korea, North and South, deserve and desire peace. Despite the antagonism and belligerence highlighted in the Western propaganda media, the majority of people of North and South Korea have in fact no wish for war. The consensus among ordinary Koreans is for peace and a democratic resolution to decades of conflict imposed on their homeland from outside. But they won’t obtain that reasonable condition as long as Washington continues to run its “protection racket”. 
And, unfortunately, the American government will not, cannot stop its criminal behaviour – because domination, aggression and terrorism are the hallmarks of Washington’s Mafia regime.
Finian Cunningham, originally from Belfast, Ireland, was born in 1963. He is a prominent expert in international affairs. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism.

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DPRK Servicepersons on Highest Alert

By Korea News Service – March 29. 2013 Juch 102
March 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Pyongyang, March 29 (KCNA) — All services and arms units of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), including the strategic rocket units, have been placed on the highest alert to cope with new war moves of the U.S. imperialists.
In this regard, Kim Myong Sik, a KPA officer, told KCNA:
“The plan of the firepower strike, finally examined and ratified by respected Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un, reflects his fixed decision to put an end to the long-standing showdown with the U.S.
It will be a great mistake for the U.S. to think that the DPRK’s operational area is limited to territorial waters around the Korean Peninsula.
Our warships will play a significant role in destroying the U.S. military bases in south Korea, Japan and the Pacific as well as the U.S. mainland.”
Yang Hyok Gi, a KPA officer, said:
“When visiting our unit some days ago, Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un said our unit should take the lead in a great war for national reunification.
Once an order is given, my unit will blow up all targets at a strike. If a war breaks out, I will carry more nukes instead of auxiliary parachute to assault the headquarters of the enemy.”
DPRK People Confident of Victory in Faceoff with U.S.
By Korea News Service – March 29. 2013 Juch 102
March 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Pyongyang, March 29 (KCNA) — It was reported through media Friday that Marshal Kim Jong Un, supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), convened an urgent operation meeting on the KPA Strategic Rocket Forces’ performance of duty for firepower strike and finally examined and ratified a plan for the firepower strike.
Upon hearing the news, servicepersons and civilians of the DPRK have became more convinced of victory in the ongoing showdown with the U.S. imperialists.
Kye Sang Chol, a KPA officer, told KCNA:
“It is the first time the U.S. let B-2A fly over south Korea as part of war exercises against the DPRK. This fully revealed its scheme to launch a nuclear war against the DPRK at any cost.
Servicepersons of my unit will reduce to ashes not only the U.S. mainland but its military bases on Hawaii, Guam and other regions, under the plan for firepower strike finally examined and ratified by the respected Supreme Commander.”
Kim Thae Ho, a work-team head of the Pyongyang Thermal Power Complex, said:
“I heard the news through radio in the morning.
Since Marshal Kim Jong Un stands in the van of the showdown with the U.S., the DPRK people are not afraid of any powerful strike means of the enemy.
We workers, too, have been on combat readiness, waiting for an order of action.”
Ji Sol Gyong, a student at Pyongyang University of Mechanical Engineering, said:
“Respected Marshal Kim Jong Un at the operation meeting underscored the need to put a definite end to the times when the U.S. could threaten and blackmail the DPRK with nukes.
Now is the time to react to the U.S moves with nukes.
All of my classmates have volunteered to join the army. We promised each other to meet again as heroes after performing feats in the all-out action against the U.S.”
Kim Jong Un Convenes Operation Meeting, Finally Examines and Ratifies Plan for Firepower Strike
By Korea News Service – March 29. 2013 Juch 102
March 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” Pyongyang, March 29 (KCNA) — The moves of the U.S. imperialists to violate the sovereignty of the DPRK and encroach upon its supreme interests have entered a grave phase.
Not content with letting B-52 make sorties over south Korea in succession despite the repeated warnings, they made B-2A stealth strategic bomber and other strategic strike means fly from Whiteman air force base in Missouri State, the U.S. over south Korea on March 28 for the first time in history to commit such dangerous provocation as openly staging a drill for striking ground targets of the DPRK.
This fully proves that the brigandish ambition of the U.S. imperialists for aggression to stand in confrontation with the DPRK has reached an extreme phase defying the meaningful warning made by its revolutionary armed forces in the March 26 statement of the Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army.
In view of the prevailing grim situation, Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army Marshal Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, convened an urgent operation meeting on the KPA Strategic Rocket Force’s performance of duty for firepower strike at the Supreme Command at 00:30 Friday.
Present there were Hyon Yong Chol, chief of the KPA General Staff, Ri Yong Gil, director of the Operation Bureau, Kim Yong Chol, director of the General Reconnaissance Bureau, and Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Rocket Force.
At the meeting he first received a report from General Kim Yong Chol, who is also vice chief of the General Staff of the KPA, on the information about the nature of action of the nuclear strike means of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces.
After receiving a report from Lieut. General Kim Rak Gyom on the technical conditions of the strategic strike means of the KPA, he made an important decision.
He said he has judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation.
If they make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, the KPA should mercilessly strike the U.S. mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in south Korea, he said. He examined and finally ratified the plan of the Strategic Rocket Force for firepower strike.
The U.S. imperialists let B-2A make sorties over south Korea in succession, indicating once again that their hostile acts against the DPRK have entered a reckless phase, going beyond the phase of threat and blackmail, he said.
B-2A’s flight to the sky above south Korea is not a simple demonstration of forces in reaction to the tough stand of the DPRK but an ultimatum that they will ignite a nuclear war at any cost on the Korean Peninsula, he noted, underlining the need to put a definite end to the times when they could threaten and blackmail the DPRK with nukes.
He declared the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK would react to the U.S. nuclear blackmail with a merciless nuclear attack, and war of aggression with an all-out war of justice.
He finally signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets of the KPA, ordering them to be standby for fire so that they may strike any time the U.S. mainland, its military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in south Korea.
He said the enemies are bringing dark clouds of a nuclear war testing the DPRK’s self-restraint, adding the DPRK can no longer tolerate this. He ordered the KPA to blow up and reduce everything to ashes at a single strike, if an order is issued.
He said the heroic service personnel of the KPA and all other people, their hearts burning with irrepressible resentment at the reckless war provocation moves of the U.S. imperialists, are now waiting for a final order of the WPK Central Committee, hardening their will to turn out in a do-or-die battle with the enemies.
The KPA will never remain a passive onlooker to the U.S. imperialists’ frantic moves for aggression but do its best to defend the destiny of the country and nation, he said.
It is the truth confirmed by history that no force on earth can hold in check the people all out for the just cause, he noted, stressing if an undesired war breaks out on this land again due to the consequences of the unpardonable action of the U.S. imperialists, it will bring them a shameful ruin and the Korean nation will greet the bright day of national reunification.
The important decision made by him under the grave situation where the Korean Peninsula has been pushed to the brink of a nuclear war by the U.S. imperialists will mark a turning point in putting an end to the history of the long-standing showdown with the U.S. and opening a new phase of history.
Nuclear War to Be Conducted on Korean Peninsula
By Korea News Service – March 29. 2013 Juch 102
March 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Pyongyang, March 29 (KCNA) — A nuclear war has turned out to be an established one on the Korean Peninsula.
Despite the repeated warnings of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the United States, for the first time, made B-2A fly from Whiteman air force base in Missouri State over south Korea on March 28 to launch an exercise of striking ground targets aimed at the DPRK.
Earlier, a formation of U.S. B-52 based in Anderson air-force base on Guam flew to the sky above south Korea and staged nuclear war exercises striking simulated in-depth targets of the DPRK.
Meanwhile, the U.S. deputy secretary of Defense flew to south Korea to finally examine the preparations for a nuclear war against the DPRK and openly said that the U.S. military attaches top priority to the second Korean war, giving green light to a nuclear war.
Accordingly, the commander of the U.S. forces in south Korea and the south Korean military chief drafted a “plan to jointly cope with local provocation”. The main point of it is to start a total nuclear war involving the U.S. forces in the U.S. mainland and the Pacific region after the south Korean forces touch off a conflict.
The south Korean warmongers, elated with the backing of the U.S. master, are threatening punishment to “provocation” of the DPRK and even seeking to mount precision missile strikes on the statues of the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, symbol of the DPRK’s dignity.
The U.S. even let the conservative media of south Korea reveal the process of the 2010 operation against Osama bin Laden. It openly said the operational plan of “south Korea-U.S. combined forces” includes targeting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK with the use of lethal striking means and methods of the U.S. imperialist aggression forces and the south Korean puppet army.
All the developments clearly show that the U.S. and south Korean aggression moves to conquer the DPRK, the strategic vantage, are leading to an outbreak of a nuclear war.
Under the present situation reminiscent of the eve of the Fatherland Liberation War (1950-1953), the army and the people of the DPRK have turned out for a sacred war of justice for defending the nation’s destiny.
Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army Marshal Kim Jong Un at 00:30 Friday finally examined and ratified the plan for firepower strike of the KPA strategic rocket forces so that they may strike any time the U.S. mainland and its military bases in Hawaii, Guam and south Korea.
All weapons of the KPA have already aimed at the bases while the Worker-Peasant Red Guards and the Young Red Guards are on standby for action.
It is the steadfast will of the DPRK to react to the U.S. nuclear blackmail with merciless nuclear attacks, and war of aggression with a total war of justice.

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War Scare in Korea – A Manufactured Crisis

By Eric Margolis
March 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The United States and the two feuding Koreas could blunder into a real war unless both Pyongyang and Washington cease provoking one another.
Last week, two nuclear-capable US B-2 stealth bombers flew non-stop from America to South Korea, and then home. These ‘invisible’ aircraft can carry the GBU-43/B MOAB 13,600kg bomb that is said to be able to blast through 70 meters of reinforced concrete, putting North Korea’s underground nuclear facilities and its leadership’s command bunkers under dire threat.
Earlier this month, US B-52’s heavy bombers staged mock attack runs over South Korea – within minutes flying time of the North – rekindling memories of the massive US carpet bombing raids that devastated North Korea during the 1950’s Korean War. US-South Korean-Australian war games in March were designed to train for war with the North. The US media ignored these provocative exercises, but, as usual, North Korea went ballistic, foolishly threatening to attack the US with long-ranged missiles it does not yet possess. 
We have grown jaded over the years by North Korea’s threats and chest-beating. But its recent successful nuclear test and work on a long-ranged missile have begun to add muscle to Pyongyang’s threats. No sooner was the new young North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in power than the US, South Korea and Japan began testing him.
More important, the US-South Korea defense treaty calls on Washington to militarily intervene if war erupts between North and South Korea. Given present tensions, a border fight on the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), commando raids by North Korea’s 110,000-man special forces, air or naval clashes could quickly lead to full war.
North Korea has repeatedly threatened to flatten parts of South Korea’s capitol, Seoul, using 11,000 heavy guns and rocket batteries hidden in caves along the DMZ. North Korean commandos and missile batteries are tasked with attacking all US airbases and command headquarters in South Korea. The 28,500 US troops based in South Korea will also be a primary target. 
North Korea’s medium ranged missiles are aimed at US bases on mainland Japan, Okinawa and Guam. North Korea’s tough 1.1-million man army is poised to attack south. Massive US airpower would eventually blunt such an advance, but that would mean moving US warplanes from the Gulf and Afghanistan. The US Air Force’s stocks of bombs and missiles are perilously low and its equipment showing heavy wear and tear.
The US has become accustomed to waging war against small nations whose ‘threat’ has been wildly overblown: Grenada, Somalia, Iraq, Libya. The last real war fought by the US, against Vietnam, was an epic defeat for American arms. North Korea is not an Iraq or Libya.
North Korea’s air force and navy would be quickly destroyed by US and South Korean air power within days of war. But taking on North Korea’s hard as nails army will be a serious challenge if it fights on the defensive. Pentagon studies show that invading North Korea could cost the US up to 250,000 casualties. So the US would be clearly tempted to use tactical nuclear weapons. But North Korea vows to nuke Japan if the US goes nuclear. And there is the threat of Chinese intervention.
The US would be wise to back off from this confrontation and lower tensions with North Korea. America’s empty Treasury can’t afford yet another war, having already blown $2 trillion on the lost wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. America’s armed forces, bogged down in the Mideast and Afghanistan, are in no shape to fight a real war in Korea. Just moving heavy armor and guns there would take months. 
Now might be a good time for Washington to ease rather than keep tightening sanctions on North Korea. Pyongyang’s real objectives are to gain a non-aggression treaty with the US and direct, normal relations. Washington won’t hear of this, though it deals with other repellant regimes. American neocons are determined to overthrow North Korea’s regime, fearing it will send advanced arms to Israel’s Mideast foes.
Military forces on the Korean Peninsula are on hair-trigger alert. Flying B-2’s near the North is almost daring it to attack. Diplomats, not air force generals, should be running this largely manufactured crisis. 
Copyright © 2013 Eric Margolis

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Western Media Set Up North Korea For War

By Finian Cunningham

March 12, 2013 “Information Clearing House – Western so-called news media coverage of the escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula is like watching a cross between a bad James Bond movie and a cheap horror flick about flesh-eating zombies.
It would be funny if the danger of war was not so serious and imminent. The disturbing direction of the Western media coverage is to set up North Korea – a poor impoverished country – for an all-out military attack by the world’s nuclear superpower psychopath – the 

United States. 

Paradoxically, this danger is being incited by “news” corporations that pompously claim to be free-thinking bastions of independent journalism, when in reality they are nothing more than progenitors of the worst kind of pulp fiction. 

Kim Jong-un, the young leader of North Korea who took over from his late father in 2011, is being cast as an insane villain whose Western media persona resembles that of a putative Doctor Evil. His projected character is fit for a role in an early 007 movie. 

Days ago, Kim was reported as threatening “preemptive nuclear war” against South Korea and its patron the United States. How evil!


Scarcely mentioned were the facts that Kim was forced into this position of making a staunch defense of his country, under immense pressure of relentless imperialist aggression. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has been slapped with yet more US-led sanctions aimed at ostracizing the country from any international contact.
It’s the equivalent of solitary confinement of a prisoner, subjected to sensory deprivation. But this is torture of an entire nation with no reprieve. 

Yes, North Korea conducted an underground nuclear weapons test in mid-February. 

This was after the US tightened the thumb-screws with yet more sanctions; and after years of Washington refusing to reciprocate with a negotiated settlement to end more than six decades of crippling trade embargoes in addition to the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation against North Korea following the 1950-53 war with its American-backed Southern neighbor. 

No other country has been threatened with nuclear Armageddon as often as North Korea – and always by the US – for more than 60 years. 

Western media have now highlighted the North Korean leader ordering his massed troops to prepare for “wiping out” a South Korean island by turning a craggy maritime outpost into “a sea of flames.” 

Do you see the innuendo here? Wiping out an island? Well, Kim must be an insane megalomaniac, right? 

The island in question is the disputed territory of Baengnyeong, which is actually located off the North Korean mainland, but which the US forced into South Korea’s possession following the 1950-53 war. It has been used since, provocatively, as a staging post for American surveillance and forward planning for attack against North Korea.


No doubt the island will be used this week during the US perennial war planning maneuvers that simulate the invasion of North Korea, but which Washington euphemistically calls “defensive measures.”
Befitting the caricature of arch-villain, photographs and footage have abounded in Western media showing Kim Jong-un clad in black long overcoat and black gloves, peering through binoculars apparently towards South Korean and American forces across the Demilitarized Zone of the 38th parallel.


Just in case the Western public fail to pick up on the demonic Dr Evil caricature, there is another sub-plot being instilled – the North Korean flesh-eating zombies. 

In recent weeks, there has been a rash of stories regurgitated by the same Western media of outbreaks of cannibalism among the allegedly starving people of North Korea. These stories of cannibalistic gore and nihilism have not just been printed by the voyeuristic tabloid gutter press. They have also been published prominently by supposed quality outlets, such as Britain’s Sunday Times and Independent, as well as one of America’s paper of record, The Washington Post


Significantly, these macabre stories began circulating in Western media outlets at the end of January – some two weeks before North Korea conducted its underground nuclear explosion. 

That suggests that the flesh-eating horror claims in North Korea are the work of a Western intel psychological campaign aimed at adding pejorative technicolor to the present crisis. 

It makes for difficult reading. Not because of the alleged gruesome details, but because these stories are so obviously concocted and regurgitated in reflex manner by supposed news organizations. The horror claims all come from one source: allegedly an undercover team of journalists from an outfit called the Asia Press, based in Japan, who were allegedly spirited secretly into North Korea and allegedly interviewed various anonymous farmers and Communist party officials. 

It’s so bad you could not make it up. 

Yet the Western media presses have gone into overdrive to pump out these unconfirmed and unverifiable accounts of purported bloodcurdling cannibalism among the North Korean population. 

In one version published by Britain’s Daily Mail, the headline runs, “North Korean parents ‘eating their own children’ after being driven mad by hunger in famine-hit pariah state.” 

Daily Mail readers are told of how starving adults are kidnapping and murdering children. One man was allegedly executed by firing squad after his wife found out that he had killed their young daughter and son “while she was away on business;” when she returned to the starving family homestead her husband greeted her with the welcome news that “they had meat” to eat. 

In another ghoulish tale, printed as serious news, an elderly man is reported to have dug up the graves of his grandchildren and eaten their rotten flesh. 

The truly disturbing thing about these reports is that not only are they sordid sensationalism passed off as credible reports by supposedly serious news organizations, but worse is that this propaganda is apparently believed by droves of the Western public who read or watch such media. Check out some of the readers’ comments below the stories printed in the above mentioned media and you will find all sorts of denunciations of North Korea and its “sick people.” 

 


But it’s not the people of North Korea who are depraved: it’s the Western media and their gullible subscribers who indulge in this odious character assassination of an entire nation.
The Western media coverage of North Korea recalls stories of babies being ripped from hospital incubators by Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait, which was a crucial tipping point for Western public opinion to support the American-led war on Iraq in 1991. More than a decade later, the same Western media ran scare stories of weapons of mass destruction that paved the way of the American genocide in Iraq from 2003-2012. 

The same Western propaganda press repeats endless claims about “sinister Iranian nuclear ambitions” that serve to justify a criminal American-led trade embargo on Iran that may result in a US/Israeli military attack on the Islamic Republic. 

The same Western propaganda press is now doing the same hatchet job on North Korea. A nation of flesh-eating zombies led by an evil personality cult who wants to blow up islands? “Yeah, go on Chuck, nuke those mothers!” 

The Western public are being played like fools to go along with the most depraved behaviour of military barbarism – a nuclear superpower itching to destroy an impoverished nation that threatens no-one. 

Truly, Western imperialist reality is more perverse and sick than the Western fiction.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime.
This article was first published by Press TV

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US Criminal Propensity Justifies North Korea’s Nukes

By Finian Cunningham
March 10, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stands out. But it is not because the secretive Stalinist regime is a nuclear pariah threatening global security, as the Western corporate media would have us believe.
No, North Korea stands out for being a beacon of rationality and, incredible as it may seem, peace. 
Bear in mind the following features: 
No other state on earth has endured a trade embargo or a gamut of diplomatic, financial and economic sanctions more than North Korea. For more than 63 years, since the beginning of the Korean War (1950-53), the DPRK has been frozen out of normal relations with other international states because of a trade embargo imposed by Washington. This illegal straightjacket has been tightened several times down through the decades with resolutions and sanctions implemented by the UN Security Council – the latest being instigated last Friday. 
Iran has endured more than 30 years of US-led sanctions, while Cuba has had to live with five decades of a US-led blockade. North Korea, therefore, has the dubious distinction of being the country that has been most cut off from the international community and all the vital opportunities that come with such normal contact for beneficialdevelopment. 
The latest round of sanctions at the UN, initiated once again by the US, aims to make all remaining international conduct by North Korea next to impossible. As well as complete blackout of financial transactions, North Korea’s shipping and air transport are to be impounded if they do not comply with unilateral inspections at any point. 
The second distinguishing feature of North Korea is that no other state has been threatened on more occasions with nuclear annihilation. Not even Iran, despite despicable threats from the US and Israel, can out-claim North Korea on this level of criminal aggression towards its people. 
All threats of nuclear extinction made against North Korea have come from one source – the United States of America. On just one of these nefarious occasions, in 1995, former US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell quipped that North Korea would be turned into a “charcoal briquette”. 
Yet in the Orwellian world of Western governments and their dutiful news media, reality is turned upside down. Selective amnesia and selective reporting convey the public image that it is North Korea who is the aggressor and insane nuclear threat while the US is the voice of reason, peace and legality. 
This past week, Western media have quickly highlighted North Korea’s threats of “pre-emptive nuclear strikes” against South Korea and its American patron following the latest round of UN sanctions. The subtle bias inculcates the notion that North Korea is some kind of crazed pariah, while the US and its South Korean ally are as innocent as white doves. 
Britain’s Guardian newspaper headlined: “North Korea urged to halt ‘provocative actions’ in wake of sanctions”. While CNN reported: “Even by North Korean standards, the threats this week by leader Kim Jong Un have been incredibly provocative, making the situation on the Korean Peninsula more worrisome.” 
The Guardian quoted a White House spokesman saying: “North Korea’s threats are not helpful. We have consistently called on North Korea to improve relations with its neighbours, including South Korea.” 
One would never guess the true nature of the conflict on the Korean Peninsula and its very real threat to global security from a reading of the Western mainstream media. All history of the Korean conflict has been whitewashed of salient facts. 
Take just the recent history over the last months. The latest sanctions imposed on North Korea are said to be in response to the DPRK’s underground nuclear bomb test on 12 February. But that test was carried out after the country was threatened with sanctions in January following its successful launch of a long-range missile into outer space in December. That missile was not armed, threatened no-one and helped put a civilian satellite into orbit. Quite an achievement that should be lauded not condemned as the action of a criminal miscreant state. 
What we have here is a long cycle of US-led provocation and North Korean counter-provocation. But the dynamic is only ever presented as an irrational series of provocations by Pyongyang. 
The nuclear test last month by the DPRK is its third. Previously, there were tests in 2009 and 2006. Both the Obama administrations and its George W Bush predecessors have scuttled disarmament negotiations between North Korea and China on one side and the US, South Korea and Japan on the other. 
Contrary to the spin put out by Washington and the Western media, North Korea has engaged fully in earlier talks, but every time it is the US that has jettisoned the dialogue. That suggests that Washington is not serious about disarmament on the Korean Peninsula. Why not? Because by continually fanning the conflict and tensions, Washington buys itself an excuse to maintain its military and nuclear presence on the Korean Peninsula, carrying out its endless war games and adding pressure on its main target – China. 
And let’s remember that North Korea only embarked on its nuclear program following earlier threats of nuclear devastation by the US in 1993, after which the DPRK gave notice that it was quitting the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Nuclear weapons were first introduced into the Peninsula by the Americans in 1950 and have been maintained there ever since – contrary to popular opposition to such US warheads, on both sides of the Korean border. 
Going further back in history is crucial to understanding the roots of the conflict in Korea and why the North appears to have such a militant position. The Peninsula was partitioned at the behest of the US in 1948 following World War II to thwart the popular Korean resistance against Japanese fascism that had brutally colonized the country. In the newly created South Korea state, the US went about suppressing the socialist resistance allied to compatriots in the North, and installing remnants of the pro-Japanese puppets and quislings. 
When the war broke out between North and South in 1950, the US mobilized its military, including nuclear weapons, in support of the South. China and Russia gave its backing to the North. But the indiscriminate violence inflicted by the US on the northern population through a 37-month non-stop aerial bombardment far exceeds any aggression that may have emanated from the North. Using saturation bombing with incendiaries and napalm, it is estimated that one-third of the entire civilian population in North Korea – some three million people – was killed by US air force bombers. Every city and major town in the North was completely destroyed. 
The northern population ended up living in deep mountain caves in order to survive from the hell unleashed by the American air force. On at least one occasion, then US President Harry Truman and his General Douglas MacArthur were a hair’s breadth from launching multiple nuclear strikes on the North. 
Since then, the Korean War has never ended technically. The armistice that the two divided entities signed in July 1953 is only an agreed cessation of fire. Thus, the people of North Korea have lived under the shadow of destruction from American napalm, incendiary firestorms and nuclear bombs. 
Given the economic, political and military stranglehold that Washington maintains on North Korea it is hardly surprising that the latter has suffered from retarded development and remains fiery in its military policy. 
US government and media never let the world forget about 3,000 people killed on 9/11. That event has justified American-led wars all over the planet. Yet, during the 1950-53 war, North Korea lost 3 million of its people – a thousand-fold more than America on 9/11 – and at the hands of the same superpower that has continued to threaten it with nuclear obliteration ever since. And when North Korea, for understandable reasons, issues belligerent warnings, as it has done in recent days, the Western media portray it a delinquent rogue state.
However, North Korea’s insistence on having nuclear weapons and the right to use them is based on rational and even sound moral judgment.
With an objective understanding of history, it is the United States which is seen to be the rogue state that is a threat to global security. Not only that, the US is a depraved coward that only attacks countries that it knows does not have nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction. Iraq, Libya and Syria come to mind. 
We can be quite sure that if North Korea did not possess nuclear capability, it would have been attacked by US forces by now and destroyed. North Korea’s nuclear weapons are probably the only thing restraining Washington in its criminal propensity to gratuitously attack other nations. In that way, ironically, North Korea and its nuclear defences have managed to sustain peace in East Asia in the face of relentless US aggression.
Finian Cunningham, originally from Belfast, Ireland, was born in 1963. He is a prominent expert in international affairs. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism.

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North Korea Cites "Tragedy" of Countries That Give Up Nuclear Programs

By David Chance; Editing By Nick Macfie
February 22, 2013 – (Reuters) – North Korea has bolstered its defenses against a “hostile” United States with its third nuclear test, it said on Thursday, noting that countries that had bowed to U.S. pressure to abandon their nuclear plans had suffered “tragic consequences”.
The North carried out its largest nuclear test to date last week, in defiance of U.N. resolutions, prompting warnings of tougher sanctions for the isolated and impoverished state and its young ruler, Kim Jong-un.
Libya abandoned its nuclear program in 2003 in a bid to mend relations with the United States and later saw leader Muammar Gaddafi overthrown in an uprising that was eventually supported militarily by Washington.
In apparent reference to Libya, North Korea said it never backed down.
“The tragic consequences in those countries which abandoned halfway their nuclear programs… clearly prove that the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) was very far-sighted and just when it made the (nuclear) option,” North Korea’s KCNA news agency said.
North Korea has told China, its sole major ally, that it plans to stage more nuclear tests, according to a source with close connections to the top leadership in both countries.
It staged the latest test in response to tighter U.N. sanctions imposed in January after the country launched a long-range rocket last year in a move that critics said was designed to prove technology for an intercontinental ballistic missile.

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Why North Korea Needs Nuclear Weapons

By Stephen Gowans
February 18, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Is North Korea’s recent nuclear test, its third, to be welcomed, lamented or condemned? It depends on your perspective. If you believe that a people should be able to organize their affairs free from foreign domination and interference; that the United States and its client government in Seoul have denied Koreans in the south that right and seek to deny Koreans in the north the same right; and that the best chance that Koreans in the north have for preserving their sovereignty is to build nuclear weapons to deter a US military conquest, then the test is to be welcomed.
If you’re a liberal, you might believe that the United States should offer the DPRK (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name) security guarantees in return for Pyongyang completely, permanently and verifiably eliminating its nuclear weapons program. If so, your position invites three questions.
• Contrary to the febrile rhetoric of high US officials, the United States is not threatened by North Korea. North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability is a defensive threat alone. The DPRK’s leaders are not unaware that a first-strike nuclear attack would trigger an overwhelming US nuclear retaliatory strike, which, as then US president Bill Clinton once warned, “would mean the end of their country as we know it”. Since a North Korean first-strike would be suicidal (and this is not lost on the North Korean leadership), whether Pyongyang has or doesn’t have nuclear weapons makes little difference to US national security. What, then, would motivate Washington to offer genuine security guarantees? It can’t be argued that US national security considerations form the basis of the guarantees, since the threat to the United States of a nuclear-armed North Korea is about the same as a disarmed North Korea—approximately zero.
• How credible could any security guarantee be, in light of the reality that since 1945 Washington has invested significant blood and treasure in eliminating all expressions of communism and anti-imperialism on the Korean peninsula. The argument that the United States could issue genuine security guarantees would have to explain what had transpired to bring about a radical qualitative shift in US policy from attempting to eliminate communism in Korea to détente with it.
• Why is it incumbent on North Korea alone to disarm? Why not the United States too?
The conservative view, on which I shall not tarry, is simple. Anything North Korea does, except surrender, is blameworthy.
Finally, you might lament Pyongyang’s nuclear test for running counter to nuclear non-proliferation, invoking the fear that growth in the number of countries with nuclear weapons increases the risk of war. But this view crumbles under scrutiny. The elimination of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq didn’t reduce the chances of US military intervention in that country—it increased them. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s voluntary elimination of his WMD didn’t prevent a NATO assault on Libya—it cleared the way for it. The disarming of countries that deny the US ruling class access to markets, natural resources, and investment opportunities, in order to use these for their own development, doesn’t reduce the risk of wars of conquest—it makes them all the more certain.
The radical view locates the cause of wars of conquest since the rise of capitalism in the drive for profits. This compulsion chases the goods, services and capital of corporate-dominated societies over the face of the globe to settle everywhere, nestle everywhere, and establish connections everywhere, irrespective of the wishes, interests, development needs and welfare of the natives. If territories aren’t voluntarily opened to capital penetration through trade and investment agreements, their doors are battered down by the Pentagon, the enforcer of last resort of a world economic order supporting, as its first commitment, the profit-making interests of the US ruling class.
Background
Because North Korea has long been vilified and condemned by the Western press as bellicose, provocative and unpredictable, it’s difficult to cut through the fog of vituperation that obscures any kind of dispassionate understanding of the country to grasp that the DPRK represents something praiseworthy: a tradition of struggle against oppression and foreign domination, rooted in the experience of a majority of Koreans dating back to the end of WWII and the period of Japanese colonial rule. This tradition found expression in the Korean People’s Republic, a national government, created by, for, and of Koreans, that was already in place when US troops landed at Inchon in September, 1945. The new government was comprised of leftists who had won the backing of the majority, partly because they had led the struggle against Japan’s colonial occupation, and partly because they promised relief from exploitation by landlords and capitalists. The USSR, which occupied the north of the country until 1948, worked with the KPR in its occupation zone, but the United States suppressed the NPR in the south, worked to exterminate leftist forces in its zone, and backed conservatives reviled by Koreans for their oppressions and collaboration with the Japanese. By 1948, the peninsula was divided between a northern government led by guerrillas and activists who fought to liberate Korea from Japanese rule, and a southern government led by a US-installed anti-communist backed by conservatives tainted by collaboration with colonial oppression. For the next 65 years, the essential character of the competing regimes has remained the same. Park Geun-hye, the incoming South Korean president is the daughter of a former president, Park Chung-hee, who came to power in a military coup in 1961. The elder Park had served in the Japanese Imperial Army. Kim Il Sung, grandfather of North Korea’s current leader, Kim Jong-eun, was an important guerrilla leader who, unlike the collaborator Park, fought, rather than served, the Japanese. The North represents the traditions of struggle against foreign domination, both political and economic, while the South represents the tradition of submission to and collaboration with a foreign hegemon. Significantly, there are no foreign troops stationed in North Korea, but are in South Korea. North Korean troops have never fought abroad, but South Korea’s have, odiously in Vietnam, in return for infusions of mercenary lucre from the Americans, and later in Iraq. As regards repression, South Korea’s authoritarianism on behalf of rightist causes is long and enduring, typified in the virulently anti-communist National Security Law, which metes out harsh punishment to anyone who so much as publicly utters a kind word about North Korea. The South Korean police state also blocks access to pro-North Korean websites, bans books, including volumes by Noam Chomsky and heterodox (though pro-capitalist) economist Ha Joon-chang, and imprisons anyone who travels to the North.
Pressure
Since the Korean War the United States and South Korea have maintained unceasing pressure on North Korea through subversion, espionage, propaganda, economic warfare and threats of nuclear attack and military invasion. Low-intensity warfare sets as its ultimate objective the collapse of the North Korean government. Unremitting military pressure forces Pyongyang to maintain punishingly high expenditures on defense (formalized in the country’s Songun, or “army first” policy). Massive defense expenditures divert critical resources from the civilian economy, retarding economic growth. At the same time, trade and financial sanctions heap further harm on the economy. Economic dislocations disrupt food supplies, make life harsh for many North Koreans, and breed discontent. Discontent in turn engenders political opposition, which is beaten back and contained by measures of repression and restriction of civic and political liberties. In response, Washington disingenuously deplores Pyongyang’s military expenditures at a time North Koreans “are starving”; denounces Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program as a “provocation” (rather than a defense against US military threat); dishonestly attributes the country’s economic difficulties to allegedly inherent weaknesses in public ownership and central planning (rather than sanctions and financial strangulation); and chastises the DPRK for its repressive measures to check dissent (ultimately traceable to US pressures.) In other words, the regrettable features of North Korea that Washington highlights to demonize and discredit the DPRK are the consequences, not the causes, of US North Korea policy. To view US policy as a reaction to the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program, economic difficulties, and repressions is to get the causal direction wrong.
US foreign policy
US foreign policy aims to secure and defend access to foreign markets, natural resources and investment opportunities and deny communists and nationalists control because access might be blocked, limited or freighted with social welfare and domestic development considerations.
As a general rule, the American government’s attitude to governments in the Third World …depends very largely on the degree to which these governments favour American free enterprise in their countries or are likely to favour it in the future…In this perspective, the supreme evil is obviously the assumption of power by governments whose main purpose is precisely to abolish private ownership and private enterprise…Such governments are profoundly objectionable not only because their actions profoundly affect foreign-owned interests and enterprises or because they render future capitalist implantation impossible [but also] because the withdrawal of any country from the world system of capitalist enterprise is seen as constituting a weakening of that system and as providing encouragement to further dissidence and withdrawal. [1]
North Korea is one of the few countries left that commits “the supreme evil.” Allowed to develop in peace, unimpeded by military pressure and economic warfare, it might become an inspiration for other countries to follow. From the perspective of the US ruling class, the United States’ North Korea policy must have one overarching objective: the DPRK’s demise. Asked by The New York Times to explain the aim of US policy on North Korea, then US under secretary of state for arms control John Bolton “strode over to a bookshelf, pulled off a volume and slapped it on the table. It was called ‘The End of North Korea.’” “‘That,’ he said, ‘is our policy.’” [2]
On top of profit-making goals, and crippling North Korea economically, politically and socially to prevent its emergence as an inspiring example to other countries, Washington seeks to maintain access to its strategic position on a peninsula whose proximity to China and Russia provides a forward operating base from which to pressure these two significant obstacles to the United States’ complete domination of the globe.
Threats of nuclear war
According to declassified and other US government documents, some released on the 60th-anniversary of the Korean War, from “the 1950s’ Pentagon to today’s Obama administration, the United States has repeatedly pondered, planned and threatened the use of nuclear weapons against North Korea.” [3] These documents, along with the public statements of senior US officials, point to an ongoing pattern of US nuclear intimidation of the DPRK.
• The United States introduced nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsula as early as 1950. [4]
• During the Korean War, US president Harry Truman announced that the use of nuclear weapons was under active consideration; US Air Force bombers flew nuclear rehearsal runs over Pyongyang; and US commander General Douglas MacArthur planned to drop 30 to 50 atomic bombs across the northern neck of the Korean peninsula to block Chinese intervention. [5]
• In the late 1960s, nuclear-armed US warplanes were maintained on 15-minute alert to strike North Korea. [6]
• In 1975, US defense secretary James Schlesinger acknowledged for the first time that US nuclear weapons were deployed in South Korea. Addressing the North Koreans, he warned, “I do not think it would be wise to test (US) reactions.” [7]
• In February 1993, Lee Butler, head of the US Strategic Command, announced the United States was retargeting hydrogen bombs aimed at the old USSR on North Korea (and other targets.) One month later, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. [8]
• On July 22, 1993, US president Bill Clinton said if North Korea developed and used nuclear weapons “we would quickly and overwhelmingly retaliate. It would mean the end of their country as we know it.” [9]
• In 1995, Colin Powell, who had served as chairman of the US joints chiefs of staff and would later serve as US secretary of state, warned the North Koreans that the United States had the means to turn their country into “a charcoal briquette.” [10]
• Following North Korea’s first nuclear test on October 9, 2006, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice reminded North Korea that “the United States has the will and the capability to meet the full range—and I underscore full range of its deterrent and security commitments to Japan [emphasis added].” [11]
• In April 2010, US defense secretary Leon Panetta refused to rule out a US nuclear attack on North Korea, saying, “all options are on the table.” [12]
• On February 13, 2013, Panetta described North Korea as “a threat to the United States, to regional stability, and to global security.” He added: “Make no mistake. The US military will take all necessary steps to meet our security commitments to the Republic of Korea and to our regional allies [emphasis added].” [13]
As the North Koreans put it, “no nation in the world has been exposed to the nuclear threat so directly and for so long as the Koreans.”[14]
“For over half a century since early in the 1950s, the US has turned South Korea into the biggest nuclear arsenal in the Far East, gravely threatening the DPRK through ceaseless manoeuvres for a nuclear war. It has worked hard to deprive the DPRK of its sovereignty and its right to exist and develop….thereby doing tremendous damage to its socialist economic construction and the improvement of the standard of people’s living.” [15]
Economic warfare
The breadth and depth of US economic warfare against North Korea can be summed up in two sentences:
• North Korea is “the most sanctioned nation in the world” — George W. Bush. [16]
• …”there are few sanctions left to apply.” – The New York Times [17]
From the moment it imposed a total embargo on exports to North Korea three days after the Korean War began in June 1950, the United States has maintained an uninterrupted regimen of economic, financial, and diplomatic sanctions against North Korea. These include:
o Limits on the export of goods and services.
o Prohibition of most foreign aid and agricultural sales.
o A ban on Export-Import Bank funding.
o Denial of favourable trade terms.
o Prohibition of imports from North Korea.
o Blocking of any loan or funding through international financial institutions.
o Limits on export licensing of food and medicine for export to North Korea.
o A ban on government financing of food and medicine exports to North Korea.
o Prohibition on import and export transactions related to transportation.
o A ban on dual-use exports (i.e., civilian goods that could be adapted to military purposes.)
o Prohibition on certain commercial banking transactions. [18]
In recent years, US sanctions have been complemented by “efforts to freeze assets and cut off financial flows” [19] by blocking banks that deal with North Korean companies from access to the US banking system. The intended effect is to make North Korea a banking pariah that no bank in the world will touch. Former US president George W. Bush was “determined to squeeze North Korea with every financial sanction possible” until its economy collapsed. [20] The Obama administration has not departed from the Bush policies.
Washington has also acted to sharpen the bite of sanctions, pressing other countries to join its campaign of economic warfare against a country it faults for maintaining a Marxist-Leninist system and non-market economy. [21] This has included the sponsoring of a United Nations Security Council resolution compelling all nations to refrain for exporting dual-use items to North Korea (a repeat of the sanctions regime that led to the crumbling of Iraq’s healthcare system in the 1990s.) Washington has even gone so far as to pressure China (unsuccessfully) to cut off North Korea’s supply of oil. [22]
Drawing the appropriate lesson
On the day Baghdad fell to invading US forces, John Bolton warned Iran, Syria and North Korea to “draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq.” [23] There can be no doubt that Pyongyang drew a lesson, though not the one Bolton intended. The North Koreans did not conclude, as Bolton hoped, that peace and security could be achieved by relinquishing WMDs. Instead, the North Koreans couldn’t fail to grasp the real lesson of the US assault on Iraq. The United States had invaded Iraq only after Saddam Hussein had cleared the way by complying with US demands to destroy his weapons of mass destruction. Had he actually retained the weapons he was falsely accused of hiding and holding in reserve, the Americans would likely have never attacked.
Subsequent events in Libya have only reinforced the lesson. Muammar Gaddafi had developed his own WMD program to protect Libya from Western military intervention. But Gaddafi also faced an internal threat—Islamists, including jihadists linked to Al Qaeda, who sought to overthrow him to create an Islamist society in Libya. After 9/11, with the United States setting out to crush Al Qaeda, Gaddafi sought a rapprochement with the West, becoming an ally in the international battle against Al Qaeda, to more effectively deal with his own Islamist enemies at home. The price of being invited into the fold was to abandon his weapons of mass destruction. When Gaddafi agreed to this condition he made a fatal strategic blunder. An economic nationalist, Gaddafi irritated Western oil companies and investors by insisting on serving Libyan interests ahead of the oil companies’ profits and investors’ returns. Fed up with his nationalist obstructions, NATO teamed up with Gaddafi’s Islamist enemies to oust and kill the Libyan leader. Had he not surrendered his WMDs, Gaddafi would likely still be playing a lead role in Libya. “Who would have dared deal with Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein if they had a nuclear capability?” asks Major General Amir Eshel, chief of the Israeli army’s planning division. “No way.” [24]
Having unilaterally disarmed, Gaddafi was hailed in Western capitals, and world leaders hastened to Tripoli to sign commercial agreements with him. Among Gaddafi’s visitors was the South Korean minister of foreign affairs, and Ban Ki-moon, later to become the UN secretary general. Both men urged the “rehabilitated” Libyan leader to persuade the North Koreans to give up their nuclear weapons. [25] Whether Gaddafi acceded to the Koreans’ request is unclear, but if he did, his advice was wisely ignored. In the North Korean view, Gaddafi fell prey to a “bait and switch.” The lesson the DPRK drew from Libya was that the only guarantee of peace on the Korean peninsula is a powerful military, backed by nuclear weapons. [26]
This is neither an irrational view, nor one the West, for all its pieties about nuclear non-proliferation (for others), rejects for itself. Britain, for example, justifies its own nuclear weapons program with reference to the need “to deter and prevent nuclear blackmail and acts of aggression against our vital interests that cannot be countered by other means.” [27] If the UK requires nuclear weapons to deter and prevent nuclear blackmail and acts of aggression, then surely the North Koreans—long on the receiving end of these minatory pressures—do as well. Indeed, the case can be made that the North Koreans have a greater need for nuclear arms than the British do, for whom nuclear blackmail and acts of aggression are only hypotheticals.
General Kevin P. Chilton, head of the US Strategic Command from 2007 to 2011, told Washington Post columnist Walter Pincus in 2010 that, “Throughout the 65-year history of nuclear weapons, no nuclear power has been conquered or even put at risk of conquest.” [28] On the other hand, countries that comply with demands to abandon their WMDs soon find themselves conquered, by countries with nuclear weapons aplenty and no intention of giving them up. Pincus used Chilton’s words to advocate a pre-emptive strike on North Korea to prevent the country from developing a large enough nuclear arsenal to make itself invulnerable to conquest. That no nuclear power has been conquered or put at risk of conquest is “a thought others in government ought to ponder as they watch Iran and North Korea seek to develop nuclear capability,” Pincus wrote. [29]
Conclusion
Nuclear arms have political utility. For countries with formidable nuclear arsenals and the means of delivering warheads, nuclear weapons can be used to extort political concessions from non-nuclear-armed states through terror and intimidation. No country exploits the political utility of nuclear weapons as vigorously as the United States does. In pursuing its foreign policy goals, Washington threatened other countries with nuclear attack on 25 separate occasions between 1970 and 2010, and 14 occasions between 1990 and 2010. On six of these occasions, the United States threatened the DPRK. [30] There have been more US threats against North Korea since. (The United States’ record of issuing threats of nuclear attack against other countries over this period is: Iraq, 7; China, 4; the USSR, 4; Libya, 2; Iran, 1; Syria, 1. Significantly, all these countries, like the DPRK, were under communist or economically nationalist governance when the threats were made.)
Nuclear weapons also have political utility for countries menaced by nuclear and other military threats. They raise the stakes for countries seeking to use their militaries for conquest, and therefore reduce the chances of military intervention. There is little doubt that the US military intervention in Iraq and NATO intervention in Libya would not have been carried out had the targets not disarmed and cleared the way for outside forces to intervene with impunity.
A North Korean nuclear arsenal does not increase the chances of war—it reduces the likelihood that the United States and its South Korean marionette will attempt to bring down the communist government in Pyongyang by force. This is to be welcomed by anyone who opposes imperialist military interventions; supports the right of a people to organize its affairs free from foreign domination; and has an interest in the survival of one of the few top-to-bottom, actually-existing, alternatives to the global capitalist system of oppression, exploitation, and foreign domination.
1. Ralph Miliband, The State in Capitalist Society, Merlin Press, 2009, p. 62.
2. “Absent from the Korea Talks: Bush’s Hard-Liner,” The New York Times, September 2, 2003.
3. Charles J. Hanley and Randy Hershaft, “U.S. often weighed N. Korea nuke option”, The Associated Press, October 11, 2010.
4. Hanley and Hershaft.
5. Hanley and Hershaft.
6. Hanley and Hershaft.
7. Hanley and Hershaft.
8. Bruce Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History, W.W. Norton & Company, 2005. p. 488-489.
9. William E. Berry Jr., “North Korea’s nuclear program: The Clinton administration’s response,” INSS Occasional Paper 3, March 1995.
10. Bruce Cumings, “Latest North Korean provocations stem from missed US opportunities for demilitarization,” Democracy Now!, May 29, 2009.
11. Lou Dobbs Tonight, October 18, 2006.
12. Hanley and Hershaft.
13. Choe Sang-hun, “New leader in South criticizes North Korea,” The New York Times, February 13, 2013.
14. “Foreign ministry issues memorandum on N-issue,” Korean Central News Agency, April 21, 2010.
15. Korean Central News Agency, February 13, 2013.
16. U.S. News & World Report, June 26, 2008; The New York Times, July 6, 2008.
17. Neil MacFarquhar and Jane Perlez, “China looms over response to nuclear test by North Korea,” The New York Times, February 12, 2013.
18. Dianne E. Rennack, “North Korea: Economic sanctions”, Congressional Research Service, October 17, 2006.http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/crs/rl31696.pdf
19. Mark Landler, “Envoy to coordinate North Korea sanctions”, The New York Times, June 27, 2009.
20. The New York Times, September 13, 2006.
21. According to Rennack, the following US sanctions have been imposed on North Korea for reasons listed as either “communism”, “non-market economy” or “communism and market disruption”: prohibition on foreign aid; prohibition on Export-Import Bank funding; limits on the exports or goods and services; denial of favorable trade terms.
22. The Washington Post, June 24, 2005.
23. “U.S. Tells Iran, Syria, N. Korea ‘Learn from Iraq,” Reuters, April 9, 2003.
24. Ethan Bronner, “Israel sense bluffing in Iran’s threats of retaliation”, The New York Times, January 26, 2012.
25. Chosun Ilbo, February 14, 2005.
26. Mark McDonald, “North Korea suggests Libya should have kept nuclear program”, The New York Times, March 24, 2011.
28. Quoted in Walter Pincus, “As missions are added, Stratcom commander keeps focus on deterrence,” The Washington Post, March 30, 2010.
29. Pincus.
30. Samuel Black, “The changing political utility of nuclear weapons: Nuclear threats from 1970 to 2010,” The Stimson Center, August 2010, http://www.stimson.org/images/uploads/research-pdfs/Nuclear_Final.pdf
This article was originally posted at What’s left

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Lost In Translation North Korea Video Shows US City Under Attack

Some in the media have presented the video as North Korea perhaps hoping to attack the United States in the future.  However, closer inspection of the portions translated, combined with the overall video emphasizing North Korea’s high tech future, do not seem to indicate a North Korean invasion.
North Korea video removed over copyright spat with ‘Call of Duty’ makers.
Posted February 08, 2013
North Korean Dreams of America: New Translation
It is no surprise that North Korea isn’t a fan of the United States, however, a recent video has lead Americans to question how the country sees our relations going forward.
In response to new sanctions introduced by the UN after their December rocket launch, North Korea has been threatening a third nuclear test sometime in the near future.  In the midst of analyzing when they will execute their next prohibited test, the country released an online video that many perceived to be a veiled threat against the United States.
In the video a North Korean man is seen sleeping, his video camera lying beside him while a piano version of “We Are The World” plays in the background.  The viewer is then taken into the man’s dream, in which Unha-9, a newer version of the rocket Unha-3 that North Korea launched in December, successfully launches.  Through what appears to be his camera lens, a reunified Korea is then seen from space before a space shuttle, named Kwangmyongsong-21 after the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite put in to orbit via the Unha-3, flies over a United States, which is in flames.  While an American Flag flies overhead, the viewer is flown through an animated Manhattan skyline interrupted with fires flaring from buildings.  The scene is actually from a popular video game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and was the reason the video was removed from YouTube; The video game maker, Activision, filed a copyright complaint and the original video was taken down Tuesday.  After stars sprinkle like confetti in space while the space shuttle appears to be doing victory laps, the video circles back to footage of the new rocket again being launched and ends with the sleeping man.  Text appear throughout the video so the viewer doesn’t misinterpret the messages.
Either because they don’t have the full translation or they don’t find the full translation to be relevant, some in the media have presented the video as North Korea perhaps hoping to attack the United States in the future.  However, closer inspection of the portions translated, combined with the overall video emphasizing North Korea’s high tech future, do not seem to indicate a North Korean invasion.  According to The New York Times, the Korean text reads from the sleeping man’s perspective.  It begins with him claiming, “I had a dream last night, a dream of soaring into space on board our Unha-9 rocket.”  He goes on to explain, “Our Kwangmyongsong-21 spacecraft got separated from the rocket and traveled through space… I see stars and the green Earth. I also see a unified Korea.”  While the focus is on the United States, the video states “Meanwhile, I see black smoke billowing somewhere in America, it seems that the nest of wickedness is ablaze.”  The text goes on to say, “It appears that the headquarters of evil, which has had a habit of using force and unilateralism and committing wars of aggression, is going up in flames it itself has ignited.”  An alternative translation has the text reading, “It looks like this den of iniquity,  given over solely to aggressive wars of tyranny and despotism,  is burning in a fire it has lit.”  In either case, while the video conveys a message of happiness in the downfall of America, the  source of our destruction (other than our own evildoing) is not indicated.  The video concludes with the man saying, “Just imagine riding in a Korean spaceship.  One day, my dream will surely come true, despite attempts by imperialists to isolate and stifle us, they will not stop our people’s path toward our final victory of achieving a unified, strong and prosperous Korea.”
Considering the fact that the vast majority of North Koreans are denied access to the internet, the country obviously posted the video for the rest of the world to view.  Yet for all of North Korea’s wild aspirations, they don’t appear to believe it necessary for them to destroy America; they think we’ll do it to ourselves.  If anyone plays a hand in their vision of our undoing, they don’t find it relevant enough to include in the video.  Perhaps they don’t believe President Obama has issued enough international apologies to ensure our security.  Or maybe they’re just upset they haven’t received one… yet.

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North Korea throws dust in USA’s eyes

North Korea has imposed a moratorium on nuclear testing, launching long-range missiles and uranium enrichment. This was the result of negotiations recently conducted by the representatives of the DPRK and the U.S. in Beijing. In return, followers of the Juche idea were offered food aid.

On February 29 the agreement was announced by the U.S. State Department. They noted that the U.S. intends to go beyond 240 thousand tons of food aid, and take other steps to improve bilateral relations. On its part, North Korea pledged to let IAEA inspectors into its main nuclear facility – a research center in Yongbyon. The information on the agreement with the United States was confirmed by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

A positive reaction followed from virtually all stakeholders. “The introduction of the moratorium is the first small step towards peace,” commented on the incident at a congressional hearing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. State Department officials said they informed the Russian leadership of all the agreements reached. The Americans stressed that the participation of Russia and China in a dialogue on North Korean nuclear program was “extremely important”.
The moratorium on nuclear testing was welcomed by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He expressed hope that North Korea fulfills all its obligations, resulting in the Korean Peninsula transformation into a nuclear-free zone. Ban Ki-moon urged all parties to double their efforts to achieve a final solution to this issue. The IAEA has expressed its willingness to send its inspectors to North Korea.

The compatriots of the UN Secretary-General were happy as well. An unnamed representative of the South Korean government said that the agreements should help in resuming the six-party talks involving the two Koreas, Russia, China, Japan and the United States, suspended because of North Korea’s nuclear tests. Seoul suggested an analogy with opening the first door leading to the resumption of the nuclear dialogue between the six countries, given that North Korea has adopted preliminary requirements for the denuclearization.

The least enthusiastic feedback about the decisions came from Japan. The country wants evidence of the peaceful intentions of North Korea. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan Koichiro Gemba welcomed this agreement as an important step to solve the complex problems of North Korea. He expressed hope that it will be a platform to stop all nuclear facilities in Korea and stressed the importance of North Korea taking concrete steps toward denuclearization.
China is also satisfied with this development. The Foreign Ministry of China stated that the Chinese Government appreciates the efforts of North Korea and the United States to fulfill obligations. They welcomed the improvement of the relations between the DPRK and the United States and their contribution to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. They added that China will, along with all interested parties, make efforts to promote six-party talks.

The nuclear missile program of North Korea has long become infamous. While the debate over its fate became especially heated only in recent years, nuclear research in the DPRK has been ongoing for nearly 40 years. In 1974, North Korea joined the IAEA and allowed in specialists from nearby China that had become a nuclear power by that time.

In 1985, the DPRK under the pressure of the Soviet Union signed the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. A few years later the world has changed. The Soviet Union was gone, and China has actually embarked on a path of market relations. The Communists were losing power everywhere, and the government of North Korea was in complete isolation. They needed warranties from external interference. They could not think of a better warranty than nuclear weapons.
At this point, the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and the world community have developed concerns. One by one IAEA inspections frequented the country. In 1994, North Korea defiantly left the organization. It came to worsening of its relations with the United States, and the situation was defused by the former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. He flew to Pyongyang, and eventually, North Korea signed a framework agreement with the United States providing for giving up its nuclear program for military purposes.

If the death of Kim Il Sung and the coming to power of Kim Jong Il did not change the behavior of North Korea, much depended on the team in power in the United States. While the Bill Clinton administration refrained from very prominent gestures towards the DPRK (obviously, it was preoccupied with Yugoslavia and Iraq), with the arrival of George W. Bush to the White House in 2001 the situation has escalated. The situation around North Korea has become a constant source of world tension. 

North Korea was immediately included in the infamous “axis of evil.” On a regular basis Washington would issue accusation that North Korea was developing nuclear weapons. In response, in early 2003, North Korea defiantly abandoned the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Given the secrecy and unpredictability of the authorities in Washington and Pyongyang, all the neighbors tensed up – South Korea, Russia, China, and Japan.
The negotiations between all six countries concerned were meant to remove the tension. They started in 2003, and were periodically interrupted. The U.S., Japan and South Korea demanded the renunciation of the nuclear program, and for North Korea it was unacceptable. As a result, in 2005, it was agreed that Americans, Japanese and South Koreans will provide food aid to Pyongyang in exchange for giving up work to develop nuclear weapons.  
The U.S. was fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, threatening Iran and other “rogue” states with force. The DPRK decided to protect themselves. In the summer of 2006 long-range missiles have been tested, and in the fall of the same year there was a nuclear explosion. In the spring of 2009 nuclear tests were repeated. The UN Security Council has repeatedly adopted resolutions condemning North Korea. The latter did not obey. Since then aggressive statements have been made by both North Korea and Washington.
In 2010 the parties reached a very dangerous line. The death of South Korean corvette “Cheonan,” and firing of South Korean island of Yeonpyeong from North Korea aggravated the situation. The U.S., Japan and South Korea introduced various new sanctions. North Korea in response to every new US-South Korean military exercise promised to “wipe out” the aggressors.

The situation of “neither peace nor war” existed continuously. Hope for some change was brought by the death of Kim Jong Il in December of 2011 and the coming to power of his son, Kim Jong Yna, who studied in the West. Some Western experts predicted a political thaw in North Korea. Time will tell if the agreement with the U.S. is indeed a “thaw.” North Korea is a closed country and predicting the actions of its leadership is the same as reading tea leaves.

Perhaps Kim Jong-Eun has decided to show that he is ready for a dialog. Perhaps the situation in North Korea with food is difficult, and without concessions food aid will not be available. Time will tell.  
Pyotr Shmelev
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