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August, 2003

Bully In The China Shop
By Edward W. Miller

The Bush Administration's aggressive public relations campaign against North Korea is another example of the dangerous immaturity of our President. Making off-the-cuff remarks regarding the leader of another country, and calling names is behavior inexcusable even in a local politician, and doubly dangerous when it is the head of state that lapses into such childishness. The fact that our Washington-subservient media has cooperated in this name-calling is but another reflection on the lack of a really free press in our country. Hidden from the American public in all this bru-ha-ha, is the fact that Washington, not Jim Jon II, is largely to blame for what has become a dangerous and unnecessary political and military stand-off.

Kim Jon II, the present leader of North Korea's communist government has been brought up under an umbrella of real or threatened nuclear warfare. When Kim was only three, the atomic clouds from Hiroshima and Nagasaki drifted over his Korean peninsula. Eight years later when Jim Jon was approaching his teens, and toward the end of the Korean War while the US with UN forces were still ravaging Kim's country, our General Douglas MacArthur requested authority to use atomic weapons and submitted a list of targets for which he would need 26 A-bombs.

These requested A-bombs were to be employed against North Korean targets as well as the Chinese, who were gathering some 600,000 troops just north of the Yalu River to both face off with MacArthur and protect China's several electric generator plants in the Yalu which served a good one/third of eastern China's industrial and domestic needs. MacArthur's successor, General Matthew Ridgeway repeated MacArthur's request but such weapons were never used. Fortunately for us, President Truman and his military advisors in Washington denied the requests. However, the newly-elected President Eisenhower, according to author Don Oberdorfer (see his book: THE TWO KOREAS) claimed that his own threats in 1953 to use nuclear weapons "played a major role in bringing about a truce." When Clinton took over as president there were still nuclear weapons in the armament of US occupying forces in South Korea.

The Korean War from the United State's point of view started in 1950 and ended with an armistice on the 27th of July, 1953. US casualties totaled 54,200 and Korean casualties (the majority civilian), over three million. North Korea was decimated and her economy reduced towards starvation levels.

Back in the mid 1990's, during the Clinton years, North Korea, still impoverished from the ravishes of the Korean War, plus the limitations set by its communist economy and sorely needing an energy source to drive its still-primitive industrial machine, had been partially dependent on two small atomic reactors, a 5 megawatt and a 30 megawatt, built with the help of Russian and Chinese engineers. Lacking the cash to purchase heating and cooking oil for his people, Kim Jon's father found himself forced to dismantle his aging 30-megawatt atomic reactor in order to refurbish its then inefficient fuel rods. It was the abundant uranium 237 present in those 8000 discarded fuel rods, that waved a red flag in Washington and started the first of several confrontations.

John Oberdorfer in his book THE TWO KOREAS says that "North Korea's nuclear debut dated back to 1982, when an American surveillance satellite ...photographed what appeared to be a nuclear reactor vessel under construction ...at Yongbyon...sixty miles north of the capital. ..Photographs taken in June 1984 clearly showed the reactor, its cooling tower, and some limited power lines and electric grid connections for local transmission..." Old-style reactors of the so-called "heavy-water" type produce, as a by-product of activity, large amounts of U-237 which is rather easily converted into the plutonium used in building atomic weapons. It was this potential weapons use to which the Clinton Administration, and now Bush, Jr. has responded .

Had Washington dealt intelligently with the situation, and offered Kim Jon II, who had taken over the leadership from his father, friendly advice and assistance, things might well have been different, but instead, Washington began accusing North Korea of planning nuclear weapons. Clinton even threatened Kim Jon II with nuclear reprisal and began running B-52 "trial runs" over North Korea from US bases in both Okinawa and Taiwan. Things got so out of hand that ex-president Carter and ex- defense Secretary William Perry volunteered to step in and diffuse the situation.

The so-called "Accord" ironed out with the help of Carter, William Perry and Kim Jon II's government, included three promises from Washington: 500,000 barrels of fuel-cooking oil/ per year, a revision of the political relations between the north and the south, and the construction by the year 2003 of two light-water, "Westinghouse-Type" 1000 megawatt atomic reactors by the Unites States, to assist the North Koreans in establishing an energy base for their nascent economic recovery. North Korea agreed not to process plutonium from the 8,000 rods in its aging 30 megawatt reactor.

Fast forward to October 2002. Bush junior, now president, rather than working towards the agreed "normalization of political and economic relations" not only neglects North Korea, but shortly after assuming office publicly humiliates Korea's president Kim Dae Jung (now ex-president) during Kim's Washington visit, since the Korean president's "sunshine policy" of Korean reunification runs counter to Washington's need for an excuse to keep the two Koreas at loggerheads and so excuse those 37,000 US troops in Kim's country. In the next move: Bush publicly announced that North Korea had been advanced from a "Rogue State" to join Iraq and Iran in Washington's "Axis of Evil".

By October of 2002 North Korea's Kim Jon II , whose people have been waiting since the 1994 "Agreement" for much needed electrical energy from the promised two 1000 megawatt reactors, complained that neither reactor had been brought online, and in fact, only the concrete foundation of one has been constructed. In an understandable snit, Kim Jon II announced he would reactivate his aging 30 megawatt reactor at Pyongyang while publicly acknowledging plans to extract some residual plutonium from discarded rods. Kim also removed the IAEA surveillance cameras and slammed the door shut on further UN inspectors. Bush originally raised the hype on the plutonium-missile issue to boost his Star Wars program, but international attention was drawn to Washington's absolute failure to keep its part of the 1994 "Agreement Framework," and Bush temporarily quieted down. In October 2002 North Korea openly admitted they were restarting their weapons program, a violation of the 1994 Agreement with Washington under which North Korea agreed to freeze its weapons activities.

The refusal of Bush to negotiate with Kim Jon II places the North Koreans in a dilemma. With a population in economic collapse, and badly in need of electric power, both to serve their cities as well as support the Kaae Sung Industrial Park under construction at their border with South Korea, Bush's refusal to move forward with the "Agreement" and deliver the two promised atomic reactors can only fuel the North Korean's anger. Add to this the not-so-subtle hints from Washington of a military strike against their atomic facility by a US, still nominally at war with North Korea (the US has refused to renegotiate the Armistice signed in 1957) , and you have the potential for a dangerous confrontation.

To add fuel to the fire, the Bush Administration has threatened to press Japan to ban the millions of yen North Koreans depend on from their Korean relatives living in Japan. If this weren't frustrating enough, the Asia Times (July 12th) reported a meeting of more than 100 defense and diplomatic representatives from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the US in Brisbane, to consider a Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) measure aimed at intercepting both ships on the high seas as well as cargo planes from those so-called "Axis of Evil" countries, when carrying what the US considers as "contraband" items such as missiles or even drugs from North Korea to either Yemen or Iran. This act which many see as "international piracy" will simply add fuel to the fire.

Kim Jon II's supposed "nuclear renewal" threat besides attracting world attention to Washington's abject failure to honor its 1994 "Agreed Framework" has another interesting aspect. North Korean officials have publicly noted that the United States has felt free to attack countries such as Yugoslavia and Iraq which had no nuclear arsenals, thus logic says the possession of nuclear arms by their country could deter the US from considering a nuclear confrontation in the Asian theatre.

While Bush may hope to achieve support for his "Star Wars" initiative by this nuclear confrontation with Kim Jon II, Bush has gained no approval from either Kim's Asian neighbors, the UN or our European allies, all of whom are pressing Washington to negotiate directly with North Korea. Washington's threat to seek a Security Council's condemnation of North Korea has gone nowhere, though Bush bought off China's threatened veto by backing Beijing's admission to the WTO (World Trade Organization) despite China's abysmal human rights record.

All in all, Washington's failure to honor the "Agreed Framework," its public inclusion of North Korea in the " Axis of Evil," its threats of military and even nuclear reprisal, and its talk of both a blockade plus international piracy both on the high seas and in the air are alarming our Asian friends, particularly the South Koreans. North Korea has over one million soldiers, and a massive artillery as well as missile array just north of the DMZ which is less than 30 miles from Seoul a city containing over 50 percent of South Korea's population and not that far from the Japanese islands. No wonder Bush's hard-line policy towards Jim Jong II frightens our Asian friends. Even Prime Minister Tony Blair, in Washington this week cautioned Bush, "We need to resolve the issue by peaceful and constructive dialogue... with talks that include South Korea and Japan as well as China and America." Meanwhile South Korea's president Ron Moo Hyun tried to play down the international alarm over North Korea's nuclear threats by praising the United States for "Putting pressure on Pongyang, while maintaining a "friendly attitude." (Independent News. co.uk 21 July, 2003) The question is: Will our bully listen?

As for the so-called North Korean missile crisis, our own US military is purchasing from at least five missile manufacturers in the US and Britain: Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon Systems, Megatech, and British Aero-space, as well as US firms which share manufacturing with Israel. All these companies are free to sell abroad except to those "Axis of Evil" countries. Trying by threats to limit Kim Jon's missile sales is foolish, as was Washington's recent move to slap sanctions on both a Chinese (NORINCO) and an Iranian (SHAHID HERMAT) missile company for "Helping the Islamic government in Tehran modernize and expand its missile arsenal." Both companies also provided missile-related items to North Korea. (globalsecurity.org) Washington's move was obviously instigated by our Israeli lobby. Experience has shown that both missiles and missile parts can and are being smuggled across borders anywhere in the world. The US is by far the world's largest seller of this military hardware.

 

 

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