Is North Korea Really A Threat To United States?

 

Suraj Kumar

nk

War of Words

The war of words between the United States and North Korea has further intensified crisis on the Korean Peninsula. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, US President Donald Trump threatens that “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.  Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”[1]  

President Trump’s speech went far beyond just arguing for ‘regime change’ and the overthrow of the Kim Jong-un regime but actually stated he would destroy a sovereign state. Since the foundation of the United Nations, no chief executives or diplomats including the previous US presidents have openly called for the annihilation of another state at the floor of UN General Assembly.

In response to this on September 22, 2017, in an unprecedented and personal televised, Kim Jong-un compared the words of US President Donald Trump with the declaration of war on Pyongyang. He stated that “far from making somewhat plausible remarks that can be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors.  I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.”[2]

North Korea regime’s repeated threats to use nuclear weapons as well as US’s threat “to totally destroy North Korea” have created an increasingly dangerous situation in the region. According to Washington, Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons destabilise peace and security not only in Korean peninsula bot in Northeast Asia as a whole.

The present US administration is showing unprecedentedly deep interest in the question of the Korean peninsula.

After the nuclear test on September 3, 2017, the US carried out a joint missile launching drill together with South Korea targeting the North Korea and dispatched two of its B-1B strategic bombers into the air above the Korean peninsula to conduct aerial bombardment drill.

Moreover, in a recent move, a dozen senators have co-signed a letter to the US State Department requesting that North Korea be once again added to Washington’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Currently, the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror is short: Iran, Syria and Sudan, the latter of which is appealing to be taken off the list. Despite opposition from Russia and China, the South Korean government formalized the purchase of land for the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system to be deployed in South Korea. Further, the US and South Korea agreed to build a missile defence system together.

Addressing the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2017, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho accused U.S. President Donald Trump of declaring war on his country.

He further stated that “What else could be a bigger threat than the violent remarks such as pouring “fire and fury”, “total destruction” coming from the top authority of the world’s biggest nuclear power. The United States is the country that first produced nuclear weapons and the only country that actually used it, massacring hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.”[3]

 

UNSC sanction on North Korea

In violation of the UN Security Council’s resolutions, Pyongyang carried out several ballistic missiles and conducted a sixth nuclear test on September 3, 2017. As a result, on September 11, 2017, the 15-member United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed Resolution 2375 against the North Korea (DPRK) slapping harsh sanctions against the DPRK by branding its nuclear build-up as a “threat” to international peace and security. More recently, it published a press release to urge its implementation. North Korea’s nuclear test deeply disappointed and angered Russian and Chinese leaders, who decided to vote in favour of UNSC resolution against North Korea.

There was once a possibility of denuclearizing North Korea, back in the ’90s.

Moreover, the report prepared by Bank of Korea in 2017 claimed that that North Korea’s economy grew at its fastest pace in 2016, despite the isolated country facing international sanctions aimed at curbing its defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons. Gross domestic product (GDP) in North Korea 2016 rose 3.9 percent from the previous year when the economy contracted due to a drought and low commodity prices.[4]

A few days ago, high-ranking officials of the U.S. administration including the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley said all options including military option are available but they are giving priority to the diplomatic solution. Their remarks are misleading public opinion as if the sanctions against the DPRK are a “peaceful” and “diplomatic” means.

Russian and Chinese Attitude

Both China and the Russian Federation are worried by the aggressive rhetoric and actions of the leaders of the United States and North Korea. However, China and the Russian Federation, while condemning North Korea’s approach to the ongoing crisis, partly blamed the joint-military exercises by the United States and South Korea.

In Russia, government officials and academicians hold mutually contradictory assessments regarding North Korea’s nuclear programs.

Russia does not accept North Korea’s nuclear status, but it has pointed out that the North Korean nuclear issue must be settled exclusively through negotiations.

China regards stability on the Korean peninsula as its primary interest. The Chinese strongly objected to the North Korea exercising its sovereign right to acquire nuclear weapons. After the nuclear test in September 2016, China has warned North Korea to not take action that would, “worsen the situation.” China has also taken some measures to squeeze the North Korea economically. In February 2017, China’s commerce ministry temporarily suspended coal imports from the North Korea through the rest of the year; a move that enhances the effectiveness of existing UN sanctions against people’s Korea. China had previously banned coal imports from the DPRK in April 2016. The state-owned oil giant, China National Petroleum Corporation, also suspended fuel sales to the North Korea in June 2017, citing concerns that the DPRK would fail to pay the company.

Nuclear Weapons and Regime Security

The history of nuclear development in North Korea is more than fifty years old. North Korean scientists began the theoretical study on nuclear questions in the mid-1950s when they started their practical training in the then Soviet Union. From the beginning, the training of North Korean specialists in the Soviet Union was carried out solely in the interests of peaceful use of atomic energy. But in the mid-1970s, Kim Il Sung made a decision to begin work on the development of domestic nuclear weapons capability.

As a result of ideological differences with both Soviet Union and China, North Korean leaders saw their traditional partner with growing suspicion and concluded that development of nuclear deterrent was the only means of ensuring regime security.[5] Further, North Korea’s nuclear activities were one of the factors that contributed to the deterioration of relations between North Korean relations with Russia and China.

In February 2005 the North Korea announced that it manufactured nuclear weapons for self-defence and, according to its plans to strengthen its nuclear deterrent, conducted underground nuclear tests in October 2006, May 2009 and February 2013, and its first H-bomb test in January 2016. North Korea has been testing ballistic missiles for the past few years, stepping up the frequency recently.

North Korea claimed that its nuclear build-up is a just self-defensive measure to cope with the decades-long US nuclear threat to its sovereignty and dignity, security and right to existence. It also asserted its right to hit back in retaliation to any military aggression, as is the right of all sovereign countries.

Washington is certainly aware of North Korean capabilities, otherwise, it would have long devastated the North Korean regime as it has done in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. However, North Korea’s military potential is much bigger than the potential of Yugoslavia, Syria or Iraq.   In relative to these states, North Korea has not only the political will but it has also developed nuclear weapons and ICBM and that their missiles are capable of reaching the mainland of United States. North Korea has made it clear that it will strike all US targets with all means if the US mounted military attacks on North Korea.

Sanctions cut no ice with North Korea

Many in the Western countries perceive that any tough sanctions could not bring the North Korea to its knees. The Trump administration tries to resolve the nuclear issue with sanctions and pressure. It has become clear that the sanctions do not work as they expected. The politics of imposing sanctions does not seem too effective in bringing about political change. This is particularly evident from in case of Iran and North Korea.

Despite the comparable coverage and severity of sanctions, the 2016 North Korea sanction completely failed in altering the target’s nuclear calculus, as manifestly demonstrated in the fifth nuclear test in September 2016 and missile tests that have occurred with greater frequency and higher technical sophistication.

North Korea believes that only nuclear weapons can help the regime maintain its security. The North Korean leadership has already learned a terrible lesson from the voluntary renunciation of the nuclear program by Libyan leader Gaddafi as well as Iraqi President Saddam Hussain and therefore does not want to repeat his destiny.

Songun Politics

North Korea remains the most demonized country in the mainstream media. However, our vision of the North Korean society is superficial and distorted by decades of US and South Korean propaganda.

Every year, the United States carries out massive “Foal Eagle” and “Key Resolve” military exercises alongside South Korean forces that simulate the invasion of the North. This year, the U.S. military went even further and held a nuclear bombing drill, where a U.S. strategic bomber flew right up to the border between North and South Korea as practice for a possible nuclear attack on the North.

Unlike the United States, North Korea has never launched a war of aggression against any country. Since the war 1950-1953 (which was essentially a civil war) neither North nor South Korea has waged war with anyone.

The notion that the DPRK is threatening the superpower United States is disgraceful.

Restoration of Six-Party Talks: The Way Forward

The United States and its allies believed that by imposing sanctions and threatening the regime in North Korea might lead to a revolt against the Kim Jong-un regime but in contrast, this exaggerates the Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

In other words, Unthe United Statesnd its allies have so far failed to denuclearize North Korea. It is also believed that this conflict has no military solution because it is coupled with disastrous consequences for the entire region.

In order to reach a solution in Korean Peninsula, the political and military leaders in both Washington and Pyongyang should refrain from threatening behaviour. The United States has never had official diplomatic relations with North Korea.

The United States should begin bilateral talks with North Korea about the denuclearization of the peninsula which they are avoiding for a long time.

With the current right-wing politics of Trump and his clear imperialist design it seems that US imperialism is entering a new phase of confrontation and conflict globally

Reference:

[1] Donald Trupm (2017). “Remarks by President Trump to the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly”, United Nations, New York, September 19, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/09/19/remarks-president-trump-72nd-session-united-nations-general-assembly

[2] Kim Jong Un (2017), “Statement of Chairman of State Affairs Commission of DPRK”, September 22, 2017, http://www.rodong.rep.kp/en/index.php?strPageID=SF01_02_01&newsID=2017-09-22-0002

[3] RI YONG HO (2017), “Statement by H.E. Mr. RI YONG HO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the General Debate of the 72nd  Session of the United Nations General Assembly New York 23rd September 2017”, https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/kp_en.pdf

[4] Christine Kim & Jane Chung (2017), “North Korea 2016 economic growth at 17-year high despite sanctions – South Korea”, JULY 21, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-northkorea-economy-gdp/north-korea-2016-economic-growth-at-17-year-high-despite-sanctions-south-korea-idUKKBN1A6083

[5] Valery Denisov (2000), “ Nuclear Institution and Organisation in North Korea”, in James Clay Moltz and Alexander Y. Mansourov (eds.) The North Korean Nuclear Program: Security, Strategy and New Perspective from Russia, London: Routledge, pp. 21-23.

Image credit: http://thelead.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/10/the-u-s-vs-north-korea-inside-a-pentagon-war-game/

Kim Jong IL Dies, ‘Son’ Rises

The Dear Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Kim Jong IL died on 17th of December 2011 at age of 69. Like his birth, his death was also mystified by the state media. The KCNA release said that he died due to overwork of field inspection, later it was mentioned, that the medical cause of death being myocardial infraction or heart attack in layman’s language. It took almost 48 hours by the authorities of the DPRK to announce the news of the person who has been termed by them variously as Dear Leader, Great General, and since 2009 as the Supreme Leader. In one of the several ironies attached with him, the man who commanded the world’s fifth largest standing army and a cache of nuclear weapon was to die in a moving train as he was acrophobic (phobia of flying). Even though in one of his several official biographies, among other prowess that he possessed — one is fighter pilot mentioned also.

Kim is believed to have been born in a small fishing village of Vyatskyoe in 1941, when his father, Kim Il-Sung, was in exile in the Soviet Union. His name was filled as “Yuri Irsenovich Kim” by the Soviet bureaucrat who did the paperwork. But in North Korea’s official accounts, he was born in 1942, in a cabin, located in a secret camp of anti-Japanese guerrillas his father commanded on Mount Paektu, a holy piece of land in Korean mythology. The event, the official Korean media proclaim, was foretold by a swallow, accompanied by the appearance of a new bright star in the sky and a double-rainbow that touched the earth.

Kim Jong Il remained a controversial figure in world polity; a person, who was subject of joke and intense hate campaign of the capitalist government and media. His inimitable demeanour of elevator shoes, oversize sunglasses and a bouffant hairdo were all subject to both fascination and denouncement.

The former US president Bush decried him as a “pygmy” and placed him with other “axis of evil” regime, though he never mustered courage to attack the diminutive North while maintaining a virtual colony in the southern part of the Korean peninsula. Bush said that he would never tolerate a nuclear North Korea, but had no other option, but to look helplessly when Kim Jong Il was building nuclear stockpiles, while the giant US intelligence were scrambling for even a tiny bit of information to come out from the so called “hermit” regime.

The US and the west have been virtually proved wrong on all major issue of North Korea and the Kims.

It has been terming the regime as Communist and Marxist-Leninist, though Marxism-Leninism has been replaced by Juche ideology and all reference to Communism and Marxism-Leninism have been removed from the constitution as well as the national governance. Yet by claiming the regime to be communist – gives the imperialist powers a sinful pleasure and credibility to put all what is happening in DPRK to the vice called Marxism.

It also happens rarely in history that death of a ruler is greeted by sense of fear by the immediate neighbour. As soon as the death of Kim Jong Il was announced on the television by the quivering voice of news anchor, the South Korean cabinet was immediately convened to discuss the security issue arising due to the event.

The Japanese government also went in a panic situation with the Prime Minister declaring that “I have ordered officials to beef up intelligence-gathering on North Korea, to work closely with the United States, China and South Korea, and to prepare for further unexpected developments. We will gather information to assess how this incident will affect the situation. I have instructed (agencies) to prepare even for the unexpected to ensure this will not adversely influence peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.”

Kim Jong Il took up the reign of DPRK after the death of Kim Il Sung his father, in 1994 and ruled for next 17 years without any solid ally. A combined cunningness and eccentricity not seen in many ruler, he oversaw his country’s rise as a nuclear and ballistic missile power on one hand, while on other presided over economic chaos and country’s slide into abject poverty,with estimated 2 million population perished (in absence of any neutral body, one may take this with a pinch of salt) in a famine that lasted from the mid-to-late 1990s due to natural calamity. DPRK had to ask for food aid from the UN and other agencies.

Kim resisted efforts by China, the U.S. and other countries to persuade him to end the nuclear-weapons programme that his father had started in the 1970s. In October 2006 North Korea first tested a half-kiloton nuclear device. It tested a more powerful nuclear explosive device in May 2009, leading to stiff sanctions by the United Nations Security Council that further damaged the economy. Though independent sources claim; that the DPRK’s nuclear capability is of a kindergarten level, with no evidence that it has been able to develop the knowhow of fitting the weapon atop a missile. Of late its missile program that has been developed by reverse engineering process, using the old and obsolete Soviet missiles has itself been plagued by problems.

All news item and stories about North Korea and Kim is lashed with how this last “Stalinist” “communist” bastion is keeping its vast majority of population hungry while the rulers of the ruling Workers’ Party enjoy a lavish life. But if the mismanagement and the functioning of the DPRK is to be blamed, then the US imperialism along with its junior partners the Japanese and South Koreans are also to be equally responsible for the food shortages.

It is true that food shortages have plagued the country. But the vilifying Kim obituaries don’t mention why North Koreans are hungry. The answer is sanctions.  US foreign policy, like that of the Allied powers in WWI toward Germany, has been to starve its adversary into submission. This isn’t acknowledged, for obvious reasons. First, it would reveal the inhumane lengths to which US foreign policy is prepared to reach to secure its goals. And second, North Korean hunger must be used to discredit public ownership and a central planning as a workable economic model. North Koreans are hungry, the anti-Communist myth goes, because socialism doesn’t work. The truth of the matter is that North Koreans are hungry because Washington has made them so. Not surprisingly, calls by humanitarian groups for the United States to deliver food aid are being brushed aside with a litany of bizarre excuses, the latest being that food aid can’t be delivered because Kim Jong-il’s son, Kim Jong-eun, has succeeded him. Huh? The real reason food aid won’t be delivered is because it would contradict US foreign policy. The United States once considered the death of half a million Iraqi children “worth it”. Its leaders would consider the sanctions-produced demise through starvation of as many North Koreans worth it, as well.
[Kim Jong-il’s Death is a Danger for North Korea, not its Neighbors ]

The Obituaries and reaction of his death also have been on predictable lines — by the pro DPRK regime and the heavily biased anti North Korean media.

The Economist, in its article titled Dear Leader, departed said:

“THE tyrant has perished, leaving a failing, nuclear-armed nation in the uncertain young hands of his “Great Successor”. His father, since 1994 the “Dear Leader” of one of the world’s most secretive and repressive states (iconic, to the right in the photo above), died on a train at 8.30am on Saturday morning, of a heart attack. North Korea’s 69-year-old supremo had been in poor health: he had heart disease and diabetes, and suffered a stroke in 2008. Nonetheless his demise places sudden and extraordinary pressure on his third son, his designated but untested successor, Kim Jong Un”

The New York Times in report titled A Ruler Who Turned North Korea Into a Nuclear State by David E. Sanger wrote:

Called the “Dear Leader” by his people, Kim Jong-il presided with an iron hand over a country he kept on the edge of starvation and collapse, fostering perhaps the last personality cult in the Communist world even as he banished citizens deemed disloyal to gulags or sent assassins after defectors.

He came to power after the death in 1994 of his father, Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founder. His inheritance was an impoverished country with an uncertain place in a post-cold-war era. He played his one card, his nuclear weapons program, brilliantly, first defying efforts by the administration of George W. Bush to push his country over the brink, then exploiting America’s distraction with the war in Iraq to harvest enough nuclear fuel from his main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon to produce the fuel for six to eight weapons.

 

The Guardian said:

He was one of the most reclusive and widely condemned national leaders of the late 20th and early 21st century, and left his country diplomatically isolated, economically broken and divided from South Korea.

Unsurprisingly for a man who went into mourning for three years after the death in 1994 of his own father, the legendary leader Kim Il-sung, and who in the first 30 years of his political career made no public statements, even to his own people, Kim’s career is riddled with claims, counter-claims, speculation and contradiction.

On the Left, there are still many parties that hold DPRK as a socialist Marxist-Leninist state and Kim Jong Il as a great Marxist Leninist theoretician, though his only contribution to field of politics and political theory has been that of introduction of Songun(Army First) policy, where a substantial resource of the country is allocated to the Army even at the expense of the people.

Three Kims: From Left Kim Jong IL, Kim IL Sung and Kim Jong UN

 

 

In DPRK’s polity it is army and not the proletariat who are the defender of the revolution and the main role in the country has been assigned to the army and others – the working class, peasantry are to play secondary role to it. This policy is in continuation of the Juche ideology propounded by the Kim Il Sung—the eternal president of DPRK. Kim Jong added Songun to it with the avowed aim of fighting imperialism and enemies of Korean revolution.

The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist Leninist) led by Harpal Barar, who has been a vocal supporter of DPRK said:

Comrade Kim Jong Il was the most faithful, the most indefatigable and the most brilliant student of Korea’s greatest son, Comrade Kim Il Sung. It was he who took the President’s teachings of the Juche idea and the Songun idea and systematised them into a scientific programme for the revolutionary advance of the Korean people towards a great, prosperous and powerful nation.

…Comrade Kim Jong Il was modest and humble. He saw himself as a soldier and disciple of the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung and as a servant of the people. He devoted himself day and night, did his best, devoted his all, to the very last moment of his life, to his revolutionary work: to the defence and security of the country, to improving the people’s livelihood, and to the lofty goals and ideals of socialism and communism.

Another British Communist Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist Leninist) that follows the path of HardialBains, in their message of condolence observed:

There is little doubt that without Comrade Kim Jong Il leading the continued building of the DPRK as an impregnable fortress, capable of devastating retaliation on any who violate the peace, the DPRK would long since have fallen prey to the criminal aggression and wanton destruction of Anglo-American imperialism, a repeat of the Korean War of such bitter memory, wreaked upon other countries in recent times. This stand has inspired and will continue to inspire the struggling peoples of the world.

We are convinced that the Korean party and its leadership and the entire Korean people will turn their great grief into strength and march forward on the road of building a prosperous socialist country, sovereign and independent, and bring into being their cherished goal of reuniting the Korean nation by its own efforts, without outside interference. We, as they, will draw inspiration in our struggles from the heroic life and work of beloved Comrade Kim Jong Il.

New Communist Party of Britain stated:

Following Kim IlSung’s footsteps Kim Jong Il led the Workers Party of Korea into the 21st century to build a strong and prosperous democratic republic. Kim Jong Il was a leading Marxist thinker who made an important contribution to the modern communist theory as well as an astute statesman who led the Korean people through thick and thin to overcome natural disasters, imperialist blockade and diplomatic isolation.

While ensuring the DPRK’s defence against the threats and provocations of US imperialism and its lackeys Kim Jong Il worked tirelessly to ease tension on the Korean peninsula to pave the way towards the peaceful reunification of Korea.

While the Communist Party of India (Marxist) declared:

Comrade Kim Jong Il led the country and the party during some of the most difficult times in the world’s history, combating the inhuman embargo imposed by the US and the resultant economic hardships. Till his end, he stood steadfast defending the principles of Marxism-Leninism and socialism. Carrying forward the legacy of the late Kim Il Sung and his theory of Juche, Kim Jong Il propounded the theory of the Shogun to suit the conditions of the country.

So like in his lifetime Kim Jong Il even after his death created what he was best known for – uncertainty.

What will be his legacy and how will history judge him is too early to tell, but he remained one of the few ruler or dictator (depending on which side one is) who remained consistent in his struggle and opposition to imperialism.

The third generation of the Kim family Kim Jong Un has become the ‘Great Successor’. The official machinery has started what they have perfected in all these years the art of propaganda and mystification of the ruler. So Kim Jong Un who is not even 30 has already been made a four star general, and the comrade Supreme Commander.

Kim Il Sung came up with idea of Juche and termed it as the only ideology to follow, which was even greater than Marxism Leninism. Kim Jong Il came up with Songun policy terming it as “all-powerful sword and guiding banner of the Korean revolution”. Now let us wait what new Kim will come up with!