Truth about the N. Korean nuclear issue and the key to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea (SPARK) presentation May 5, 2010, a Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty side event:

Truth about the N. Korean nuclear issue and the key to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

1. The reality of the US nuclear war threat against the DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, i.e. North Korea)

(1) The establishment of ROK (Republic of Korea, i.e. South Korea)-US alliance: the beginning of the US attack threat towards the DPRK

The Korean War that began in 1950 came to a conclusion with the Korean War Armistice Agreement on July 27, 1953. However, according to international law, the Agreement only meant a temporary cease fire and as such it did not end the war. Thus, Article IV 60 in the Agreement stated that a political conference should be held to discuss “the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, etc.” But, on August 8, 1953, the US and the ROK signed a Mutual Defense Treaty and established alliance relationship. The Mutual Defense Treaty is an act of violating Article II 13, 3 and 4 that prohibits the increase of military personnel and equipment in Korea from outside and Article II 12 that prescribes the complete cessation of all hostilities in Korea. Thus, the Mutual Defense Treaty is a breach of the purpose of the Korean War Armistice Agreement for the peaceful settlement of the Korean question.

(2) The US nuclear weapons deployment in the Korean Peninsula and its nuclear war threat against the DPRK

a. The US nuclear war threat against the DPRK

During the Korean War the US twice warned of its use of nuclear weapons. On June 21, 1957, the US declared one-sidedly the abolition of Article II 13, 4 and launched its tactic nuclear weapons in the ROK. The US, from 1976 to 1994, practices the Teamspirit exercise that was the largest scale nuclear attack exercise against the DPRK. Such exercise has continued with different names. While the US withdrew tactic nuclear weapons from the ROK in 1991, it has maintained the so-called “extended nuclear deterrence” (nuclear umbrella). From January to June in 1998, the US operated nuclear weapons drop exercises. The Bush government designated the DPRK as a target for first nuclear strike in the US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) of 2002 and strived to develop nuclear bombs to destroy the DPRK underground nuclear facilities. The US military station in Pyongtaik which will have the US “KORCOM” is being built for protection from the DPRK nuclear attacks in the case of nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.

b. The US operation plans to attack the DPRK

The US designed Operation Plan 5027 with a view to occupy Pyongyang. The OPLAN 5027-98 includes a preemptive strike plan against the DPRK. In 2002 the ROK Defense Minister and the US Secretary of Defense agreed to the strategic planning guidance manifesting that OPLAN 5027 purports to destroy the DPRK military army, overthrow the DPRK regime, and promote conditions for the reunification of Korea. In preparation for the US’s returning wartime operation control authority to the ROK, the US has been working on “New Combined Operation Plan 5012” which will integrate the existing OPLAN 5027 and 5026. Along with 5027, the US has designed several Operation Plans. OPLAN 5026 is designed for the US preemptive precise strike against the DPRK and 5029 is designed for the US military intervention at the time of an emergency situation in the DPRK, including the seizure of weapons of massive destruction. Particularly, OPLAN 5029 is a very provocative plan in that the US intends to deploy military troops into the DPRK even in peace-time. As such, it is an act of intervening in domestic affairs and a breach of international law.

2. The US Repeated breach of Agreements and The DPRK nuclear weapons

(1) 1994 DPRK-USA Agreed Framework and Joint DPRK-USA Communique

As the US suspicion about the DPRK nuclear weapons plan in 1994 generated the so-call first N. Korean Nuclear Crisis, the Agreed Framework between the USA and the DPRK was adopted to resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. Its main content states that the DPRK will “freeze its graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities and that the US would provide “formal assurances to the DPRK, against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons by the US and “undertake to make arrangements for the provision to the DPRK of a LWR (Light Water Reactor) project by a target date of 2003.

But, anticipating the imminent demise of the DPRK, the US did not fulfill the requirements of the Agreed Framework. In 1998, the US raised suspicions about the possibility of the DPRK’s Geumchang-ri nuclear weapons plan and practiced a simulated nuclear attack targeted at the DPRK, but failed to find any evidence. The 2000 DPRK-US Joint Communique included replacing the 1953 Armistice Agreement with permanent peace arrangements.

But in 2001 the Bush administration ignored the agreed point. In the January 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush referred to the DPRK, Iran, and Iraq as states that constitute an “axis of evil” and thus as a target for use of nuclear weapons. In September 2002 the Bush administration announced a shift in U. S. policy toward possible “preemptive military action” as its National Security Strategy, and then invaded Iraq in 2003. This is the background which led the DPRK to announce on February 10, 2005 that it had acquired nuclear weapons. This indicates that the US threat of use of nuclear weapons against the DPRK has eventually driven the DPRK to develop nuclear weapons.

(2) September 19 Joint Statement and the Disarray of Six-Party Talks

Confronted by the DPRK’s announcement of its acquisition of nuclear weapons, the Bush administration agreed to negotiate with the DPRK, of which outcome was the September 19 2005 Joint Statement. The Joint Statement includes the provisions of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the normalization between the DPRK and the US, and between the DPRK and Japan, financial and energy support for North Korea, and the promotion of a peaceful Korean Peninsula, and Peace and Security in North-East Asia. But, on the next day after signing the Joint Statement, the US put into effects financial sanction against the DPRK, making it explicit that it had no intention to comply with the Joint Statement.

In response to such an act of violation, the DPRK proceeded with a nuclear test on October 9, 2006 and it was a fatal blow to the US. Then, the US agreed to “Initial Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement” at the Six-Party Talks on February 13, 2007 and restored the Joint Statement. On October 3, 2007, the US agreed to the second steps to implement the Joint Statement. But, the US made additional requirements allowing “extracting sample ores, unnoticed visit, and examining unreported facilities,” which are beyond the agreed stipulations at Six-Party Talks, such as the DPRK’s disablement of nuclear weapons and its responsibility of report. As David Albright, the Director of the US Science and International Security Institute, expressed, this was tantamount to “demanding the right to inspect the DPRK’s military facilities,” a “demand which no sovereign nation can accept.”

3. The Obama Administration and the Continuing US Threats against the DPRK

After his inauguration, President Obama sent Sallig Harrison to deliver his message to the DPRK that if the DPRK hands in its reported 30.8 kg plutonium to the IAEA, the US will consider a peaceful treaty and the normalization of relations between the US and the DPRK. When Stephen Bosworth as Obama’s envoy visited Pyongyang in February 2009, the DPRK proposed the US withdrawal of hostile policies toward the DPRK, the elimination of the US extended nuclear deterrence toward the ROK, and the abolishment of the US-ROK alliance as the precondition for its abolishment of nuclear weapons. As the DPRK did not receive a proper response from the Obama administration, the DPRK launched a satellite on April 5, 2009. The UN Security Council reproached the DPRK’s satellite launch, which is their exercise under international law, through Chair’s unprecedented statement. In response, the DPRK enacted its second nuclear test on May 25, 2009, and the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1874 (2009).

In 2010 QDR report, the Obama administration referred to the DPRK as one of the main nations threatening its national security. The 2010 BMDR states that “North Korea, which has demonstrated its nuclear ambitions and continues to develop long-rang missiles, is of a particular concern.” The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review has not excluded the DPRK and Iran from nations targeted for the US preemptive nuclear strikes. In March 2010, the US executed the preemptive attack exercises against N. Korea called Key Resolve/Foal Eagle. The Key Resolve is an exercise to train to deploy the US military army in foreign countries, following OPLAN 5027, to the Korean Peninsula in the event of war. Walter L. Sharf, the Chief Commander of US Armed Forces in Korea, openly revealed the fact that the US Army special forces to destroy the N. Korean WMD has been participating in the military exercise.

4. Eliminating the hostile US-DPRK relation is essential to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

(1) The DPRK’s nuclear program is a means to its survival.

A report from the US Atlantic Council Working Group has stated that the reason why the DPRK has acquired nuclear weapons lies in its fear of the US military operations against the DPRK (A Framework for Peace and Security in Korea and Northeast Asia, 2007, p. 1). Dennis Blair, the former director of the USDNI, said that “Pyongyang probably views its nuclear weapons as being more for deterrence, international prestige, and coercive diplomacy than for warfighting” and that “we also assess Pyongyang probably would not attempt to use nuclear weapons against U.S. forces or territory unless it perceived the regime to be on the verge of military defeat”(Testimony at Senate Select committee on Intelligence, 2009, 2, 12). Henceforth, it is fair to say that the DPRK’ s development of nuclear weapons is for self-defense rather than for attack.

(2) The DPRK has declared that it will commit to denuclearization if a peace treaty is established.

The North Korean nuclear issue is the product of a deep-rooted hostile state between the US and the DPRK. The long-standing hostility between the US and the DPRK stemmed from the fact that the US and the DPRK failed to legally settle the unfinished Korean War. Consequently, if the US and the DPRK wish to end their hostile relation for a peaceful relation, it is imperative that both states legally end the Korean War and conclude a peace treaty which provides mutual respect for sovereignty and mutual no-invasion. In this context, in January 2010, the foreign ministry of N. Korea declared that the denuclearization has been its consistent policy goal and that “a peace treaty will impel the elimination of the US-DPRK hostile relations and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula with rapid speed.”

5. The reason why US-ROK alliance should be abolished along with the elimination of the US-DPRK hostile relations

(1) US-ROK alliance cannot coexist.

US-ROK alliance regards the DPRK as its military enemy and aims at the overthrow of the DPRK’s socialist system by military and non-military means under the flag of value-based alliance. In this regard, the US-ROK alliance is a fundamental contradiction to a peace treaty which promotes the legal purge of the US-DPRK hostility. Therefore, as soon as the US and the DPRK eliminate their hostile relation, US-ROK alliance should be abolished.

(2) The DPRK is no longer a military threat.

The Korean Bank has shown that the GNI of South Korea ($934,700 million), as of 2008, amounts 37.7 times over the GNI of North Korea ($24,700 million). In 2008, according to S. Korean Unification Ministry’s estimation, the military defense expense of N. Korea was $550 million, but S. Korea spent $24.7 billion, which is 45 times more than N. Korea’s expense. The S. Korean government also admits that S. Korea’s military forces (even excluding the US army forces in S. Korea) is superior to N. Korea’s. N. Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons does not reverse S. Korean military forces superior to N. Korea. Viewed from limitations in military effect of N. Korean nuclear weapons and the nature of deterrence of N. Korean nuclear weapons with respect to the US and S. Korea, N. Korea’s nuclear weapons cannot be perceived as a military threat against S. Korea.

(3) The invasive nature of US-ROK alliance

The US-ROK alliance is claimed as a defense alliance, but in reality it is an offensive alliance targeting military occupation of the DPRK. As the US and S. Korea promote “ROK-US Strategic Alliance,” the invasive nature of US-ROK alliance has been manifest. In June 2009, the ROK-US summit adopted “Joint Vision for the Alliance of ROK and USA” to build up “a comprehensive alliance.” A comprehensive alliance provides a model for a dependence alliance that subjects S. Korean national interests and strategies to those of the United States. A comprehensive alliance, standing for value-based alliance, considers nations of different social value and system as potential enemies. As a consequence, N. Korea is perceived as the object for absorptive unification. As such, it stands for a global alliance which allows the ROK-US alliance forces to intervene in local and global security matters beyond the geographical sphere of the Korean Peninsula.

(4) S. Koreans’ suffering from the ROK-US alliance

As of September 30, 2008, there are 87 USAFK bases in S. Korea, equivalent to the land of 32,436 acre. In addition, US army forces in S. Korea have been using 37 ROK-US common training fields (in total, at least 49.000 acre). 5 main airports for S. Korean army are designated as Collateral Operation Bases to be used for the US military reinforcements. The financial burden of S. Korean people due to ROK-US alliance is huge. Under the pretense of “defense expense sharing,” S. Korea has paid for the annual expense of US Armed forces in Korea for 22 years since 1980 and is paying about $700 million this year. Further, S. Korea should spend about $6.3 million to cover the expense for the USAFK base transfer only this year. The total expense for the USAFK base transfer is estimated more than $13 billion and S. Korea is expected to pay almost all of it.

Further, residents of areas surrounding US military bases have suffered enormously. Due to US military base expansion and transfer, many village people in Pyongtaik and Mugeun-ri have been forced to abandon their cherished life base inherited from their ancestors. Furthermore, with respect to the issue involved in restoration of returned and polluted military stations, the US Army resists accepting its accountability and pushes the estimated $ 1 billion estimated for restoration to S. Korean government’s responsibility.

6. Danger of Extended Deterrence and Illusion of a “Nuclear-free World” Construction

(1) Danger of Nuclear Extended Deterrence

The United States has promised to provide “nuclear umbrella(extended deterrence)” for S. Korea. However, it should be noted that the US incurred war crisis in the Korean Peninsula 4 times during the Cold War period and 5 times since the beginning of the post-Cold War period. The extended deterrence policy has turned out not to increase alliance security, but for constant war crisis.

Further, the nuclear extended deterrence (first strike threat against N. Korea) policy has created a reverse effect that enabled N. Korea to obtain nuclear weapons. As the Obama government reaffirmed the extended deterrence policy in the recent NPR, the DPRK responded to it by announcing that it would increase nuclear weapons acquisition and pursue modernization.

The reaffirmation of the first use policy is meant to abandon ‘Geneva Agreed Framework (1994)와 9․19 Joint Statement(2005) on security assurance for non nuclear states and undermine the international reliability upon the US nuclear reduction imperative to implement the vision of a “nuclear-free world.” Thus, the US persistence on its nuclear umbrella policy demonstrates that the US will not give up its hegemony over against N. Korea and at the same time that it will deal with its alliance party S. Korea under the US dominant hegemony.

(2) Problem involved in strengthening conventional military forces in the name of the reduction of nuclear weapons role

The US moves toward the direction that strengthens conventional arms capacities in exchange for a reduction in the nuclear weapons role. But, it becomes evident that those countries, including N. Korea, that have been threatened by possible nuclear attacks from the US will feel more exposed to US conventional military attacks. Then, it would make these countries more difficult to give up nuclear weapons programs and the military arsenal increase.

(3) Nuclear Umbrella Policy as a US hegemony policy over against N. Korea puts the entire Korean people into danger.

The US’s nuclear war scenario against N. Korea allows the US to strike 700 targeted areas, including nuclear weapons, missiles, and operation (center) bases, in N. Korea even before N. Korea attacks S. Korea or immediately after a war. In 1994 the Clinton administration proposed a “surgery-model precision attack” targeting the Youngbyon nuclear facilities and exercised a simulation test. The result derived from the test was that the attack will become a full-scale war, incurring the heavy casualties of 52, 000 American soldiers and 490,000 S. Korean soldiers. Thus, the Clinton administration had to cancel its attempt to attack N. Korea. In 2004, an American anti-nuclear group, Natural Resources Defense Council also conducted a similar simulation and reported the estimated casualty number from 840,000 to 1,250,000.

7. Towards the genuine achievement of a “nuclear-free world”

It is urgent that NGOs not allow the vision of a “nuclear-free world” to be rendered into another logic of the US nuclear hegemony. In order to undertake this task, NGOs should demand that nuclear weapons states, including the US, should embrace a no-first use policy, legally binding NSAs toward non-nuclear states, the abolishment of an extended deterrence policy, and the responsibilities of nuclear weapons reduction.

We believe that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through concluding a peace treaty can contribute to and enhance the vision of a “nuclear-free world.” N. Korea has declared that if the US abolish its hostile policy toward N. Korea, its nuclear umbrella, and the US-ROK alliance, N. Korea will give up its nuclear weapons. For sixty years since the Korean War Armistice Agreement on July 27, 1953, the Korean Peninsula has been in a war state. A peace treaty in the Korean Peninsula can mark a turning point leading N. Korea to give up nuclear weapons.

Concluding a peace treaty in the Korean Peninsula, one of the main world conflict regions, we believe, will bring the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and further promote the denuclearization of North-East Asia. This will be an important step towards a nuclear-free world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *