The Korean Peninsula: U.S. Military Aggression and Pyongyang’s Response

As a matter of policy, the DPRK has consistently proposed it would dismantle its nuclear program only if the U.S. would sign a non-aggression and peace treaty that would replace the 1953 armistice treaty forged in Panmunjon. South Korea has supported this proposal as it had also signed way back in 1991 the “Mutual Non-Aggression Treaty” with Pyonyang.[13] Were Washington to agree to this North Korean proposal, it would have meant pulling out all its forces and nuclear warships in the Korean Peninsula and the eventual reunification of the two Koreas. But as the then defense secretary of Bill Clinton, William Cohen, warned, far from expecting an U.S. pull-out, American military presence in South Korea will be a permanent fixture even in a scenario of reunification. Bulatlat

[1] “Who Creates Tension on the Korean Peninsula?,” Commentary, Anti-Imperialist News Service, March 5, 2002, Chicago, Illinois.

[2] Edwin Licaros, “If War Breaks out in Korea, Don’t Blame the North,” Monograph, Center for Anti-Imperialist Studies (CAIS), Philippines; posted by, Jan. 19-25, 2003; citing Leon V. Sigal, “Jimmy Carter Makes a Deal,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, January/February 1998. In 1999, hard-line sentiment in the U.S. Congress and among key policy-makers continued to define the U.S. government’s more hawkish stance. Many in the CIA and Pentagon were deeply skeptical of engagement and preferred to see the imminent collapse of the North Korean government, regardless of its consequences. When the U.S. signed the Agreed Framework, they thought the North Korean government would collapse before the promised light-water nuclear reactors would be operational in 2003. John Feffer, “U.S.-North Korea Relations,” Foreign Policy in Focus, published by the Interhemispheric Resource Center and Institute for Policy Studies, May 1999.

[3] Licaros, ibid, citing “Preemptive Posturing,” Hans M. Kristensen, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September/October 2002.

[4] Chalmers Johnson, Blowback.

[5]Anti-Imperialist News Service, March 2002. Japan, which is in the process of reviewing its constitution in its bid to increase its militarization, spends $42 billion for defense every year or higher than China’s. South China Morning Post, Nov. 1, 2006.

[6] Pyongyang’s missile capability cannot even reach the U.S. territory and can therefore be seen as of no immediate threat. Conversely, the U.S. has a nuclear arsenal of 5,400 multiple-megaton warheads atop intercontinental ballistic missiles based on land and at sea; an additional 1,750 nuclear bombs and cruise missiles ready to be launched from B-2 and B-52 bombers; and a further 1,670 nuclear weapons classified as “tactical.” Not fully deployed but available are an additional 10,000 or so nuclear warheads stored in bunkers around the U.S. Newsweek, June 25,2001, cited by Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic, NY: Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, 2004.

[7]The agreement called for the U.S. to arrange for the construction by 2003 of two 1,000-megawatt light-water reactors in North Korea and provide fuel oil to replace energy lost by the closing of that country’s reactors, and it was to guarantee that it would not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons on the Korea Peninsula. For its part, North Korea agreed to stop using and then dismantle its Russian reactors, ship its nuclear fuel rods out of the country, remain a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and allow IAEA inspections of its nuclear sites. Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, 2000, NY: Owl Book, Henry Holt and Company.

[8]Licaros, op cit.

[9] North Korea and the United States: Declassified Documents from the Bush I and Clinton Administrations; National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 164; Edited by Robert A. Wampler – 202/994-7000 Posted – August 23, 2005.

[10] Green Left Weekly, October 11, 2006.

[11] In June 2000, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, acting on his own initiative and without consulting the U.S., undertook a historic journey of reconciliation to Pyongyang, trying to eradicate the last vestiges of the Cold War on the Korean Peninsula. His visit produced a breakthrough, and for his efforts he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Chalmers Johnson, Sorrows of Empire, p. 89.

[12]Chalmers Johnson, Sorrows of Empire, p. 91. The South Koreans estimate that the North possesses 175-200 Rodong missiles with a range of 1,300 kilometers, capable of striking anywhere in Japan, and 650 to 800 intermediate-range Scud missiles targeted on South Korea and stored in underground facilities. Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, April 25, 2003.

[13] Jaewoo Choo, “U.S.-Korea Talks: Prelude to Peace Treaty?” Asia Times, April 29, 2003.

*This is part of a paper discussed by the author at the conference of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles in East Asia and Oceania on Dec. 11, 2006. It will also be part of a forthcoming book on East Asia today.

Hegemony or Cooperation: Major Contradictions in East Asia Today*
First of four parts

U.S. and China: Harmony Today, Confrontation Tomorrow?

Second of four parts

China vs Japan: FTAs, Oil and Taiwan
Last of four parts

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