Talks could end N. Korean crisis peacefully, part IV

n U.S., N.Korea on collision course for nuclear war? By Sung Kweon Nam Staff Writer In the first 24 hours of a war on the Korean peninsula, approximately 300,000 to 500,000 artillery rounds could rain down on Seoul and cause massive casualties of up to 1 million, as suggested by Stars and Stripes in a Feb. 9 report. A nuclear war more hellacious than the scenario presented by Stars and Stripes might break out in the Korean peninsula. Two perilous trains—North Korea and the United States—have been coming from the opposite directions on the same track, especially since last October. James Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs, visited North Korea for formal talks on Oct. 3-5, 2002, but failed to reach agreement on a range of security issues. The meeting was the first high-level talks between the two countries since Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made a trip to North Korea in October 2000. Kelly confronted North Korea with evidence and acknowledgment of the North’s enriched uranium program with Pakistani assistance, which was seen to violate the 1994 Agreed Framework to end North Korea’s nuclear arms program. In the meeting with Kelly, North Korea offered three resolutions. First, North Korea agreed to halt the endeavor to produce weapons-grade enriched uranium. Second, North Korea promised to continue to conform to existing safeguards on plutonium-based nuclear facilities shut down under the 1994 U.S.-North Korean agreement. And third, North Korea agreed to allow every necessary inspection and verification measure. In return, the United States was to pledge publicly not to conduct a pre-emptive strike on North Korea through signing a non-aggression pact, and normalize diplomatic relations. This would pave the way for economic assistance from U.S.-controlled multilateral financial institutions. Kelly rejected those conditions and delivered an ultimatum that North Korea must first halt its uranium enrichment program, before the U.S. would consider the North Korean demands, otherwise the 1994 Agreed Framework would be terminated. In the Oct. 22, 2002, edition of USA Today, Salig S. Harrison, director of the Center for International Policy, said the Bush administration justified its refusal to bargain by arguing that the enrichment program violated the 1994 Agreed Framework, proving that North Korea was untrustworthy. Harrison said North Korea violated the spirit of the agreement, but not the letter. While the 1994 accord refers to the shared goal of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, it covered only specified plutonium-based facilities then in existence. Harrison suggested the U.S. failed in fulfilling two key provisions of the 1994 deal: to “normalize relations” with economic aid, and “formal assurances” that would exclude the “threat or use of nuclear weapons by the United States” against North Korea. Despite the United States’ decision on June 19, 2000, to ease economic sanctions partially, the contents of mitigation were very limited because North Korea was not removed from the U.S. list of terrorism-sponsoring countries, while the 1994 accord said the U.S. would alleviate sanctions within three months. For the five decades since the 1950-53 Korean War, almost all U.S. trade and financial transactions with North Korea had been banned. North Korea reportedly demanded compensation for lost electricity production stemming from a delay in installation of two nuclear light-water reactors. Under the 1994 Agreed Framework, the reactors were supposed to be developed by the U.S.-led Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO). KEDO consists of South Korea, Japan, the United States and the European Union. Chang-Joon Chang, investigator at the Human Rights Institute in South Korea, said the construction of nuclear reactors cannot be completed until 2008 because of the United States’ unfaithful attitude on the work (and the allotment of all concerned countries’ funds), although 1994 accord said construction was to be complete this year. On Nov. 15, 2002, the U.S.-led KEDO decided to halt U.S. oil deliveries to the North beginning next month. This move was designed to suppress the nuclear program. On Dec. 12, 2002, North Korea declared it would reactivate its plutonium-based power plant program. The program had been suspended under the 1994 Agreed Framework. In early 1998, the U.S. simulated a nuclear attack on North Korea in Florida war games. In 2002, the U.S announced the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), emphasizing the development of new nuclear weapons for various potential targets, and the National Security Strategy (NSS), clarifying a pre-emptive attack on North Korea with nuclear arms if deemed necessary. North Korea unsealed the mothballed reactor on Dec. 24, 2002, after removal of surveillance cameras at the nuclear facility at Yongbyon (northwest of North Korea). Two inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were expelled from Yongbyon on Dec. 31, 2002. North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) on Jan. 10 and threatened on Jan. 11 to resume missile testing. The U.S. wanted to settle North Korea’s nuclear issue within the international community, while spurning North Korea’s demand for its direct dialogue with the U.S. On Feb. 12, IAEA brought the issue to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which provided a multilateral forum for discussion. However, Russia and China, members of the UNSC, expressed negative reaction for the debate in the Security Council. According to Yoo-Hwan Ko, a professor of North Korean studies at South Korea’s Dong-kook University, North Korea escalated the crisis from late 2002 to early 2003, thinking it could negotiate in better position with the U.S., as the U.S was preparing for the Iraqi war at that time. In late March, the Bush administration decided not to impose sanctions against Pakistan after a six-month internal policy battle, despite the obvious evidence that Pakistan provided uranium enrichment technology to North Korea beginning in 1998 in exchange for ballistic missile technology and components, according to Harrison in the International Herald Tribune. Harrison stressed in The Mercury News on May 30, “Firm U.S. action is urgently needed to guard against further Pakistani nuclear transfers not only to North Korea but also to other would-be nuclear powers, notably Saudi Arabia, and to prevent the leakage of Pakistani missile material to terrorist groups.” Wook-Sik Chung, the representative of Civil Network for a Peaceful Korea said: “Nowadays, the United States is a strong alliance with Pakistan, which is substantially proliferating nuclear weapons as well as weapons of mass destruction; and with Israel, having a great number of terrorists; and with Turkey, oppressing Kurds no less than Iraq does. This illustrates that the Bush administration’s standard between good and evil was not based on morality but made by itself.” During the trilateral talks among North Korea, the U.S. and China in Bejing on April 23-25, North Korea and the U.S. staked out their original stances on the festering North Korean nuclear issue with out any bargaining or compromise. In fact, the meeting was not completed due to North Korea’s brinksmanship. During a South Korea-U.S. summit on May 14 in Washington, the two nations’ leaders agreed to solve the nuclear standoff peacefully, but they warned they would consider “further steps” against the North’s provocative actions. The military option was still on the table. Those “further steps” were understood as determination of United Nations’ restraint, suspension of Japanese payments to North Korea, a naval blockade, and then military actions.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!