Commentary

Who Creates Tension on the Korean Peninsula?

(March 5, 2002)

U.S. imperialism is stepping up its threats against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and attempting to justify military action against the people of the region.

In his "state of the union" message in January, George Bush labeled North Korea as part of an "axis of evil" and other members of the cabinet such as Colin Powell and Dick Cheney have since then backed up Bush's comments by promising "action against this rogue regime."

The U.S. is attempting to justify its threats by claiming that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is developing "weapons of mass destruction" and poses "a threat to peace and stability in the region." U.S. officials have been desperately repeating this big lie, hoping that some people will believe it despite its absurdity.

U.S. imperialism's accusations against the DPRK are not only absurd but hypocritical.

U.S. officials are well aware, for example, that the DPRK suspended the production of its intermediate-range ballistic missile program in 1999, and U.S. intelligence analysts, themselves, have acknowledged that North Korea's ballistic missile technology "is incapable of threatening the U.S." (see, for example, The CIA Assessment: "Foreign Missile Developments and the Ballistic Missile Threat Through 2015.")

Furthermore, during the past ten years, numerous inspections of North Korea's nuclear energy facilities, built solely for electric generation, have been carried out by officials from the U.S. as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Despite accusations from the U.S. that North Korea was "diverting nuclear energy resources for weapons" or "building underground nuclear weapons plants," inspectors found no validity to such claims. Yet, further, under a 1994 Agreement with the U.S., the DPRK suspended the building of new nuclear reactors in return for a U.S. commitment to build a Light Water Reactor. Again, repeated inspections have proven that the DPRK is living up to its 1994 Agreement. In a 1999 statement outlining a visit of U.S. inspectors, for example, spokesman James P. Rubin said, "The team found an unfinished site, the underground portion of which was an extensive, empty tunnel complex....based on what we know, there is no basis to conclude that north Korea is in violation of the Agreed Framework." Another recent study by the Federation of Atomic Scientists (FAS) concluded "North Korea, most of all, has kept its pledge to freeze all of its nuclear facilities, including nuclear reactors and a reprocessing plant."

The facts show that it is not the DPRK but U.S. imperialism which has repeatedly used weapons of mass destruction against the Korean people and which today is preparing new aggressions.

Recent exposures of atrocities committed by the U.S. military during the Korean War have again provided a glimpse of the monstrous crimes resulting from the U.S. occupation. And it was the U.S., not North Korea, which actually used "weapons of mass destruction" against the people of the region. Napalm and other chemical warfare agents were used extensively in Korea during 1950-53, and the saturation bombing of population centers throughout North Korea, the wholesale murder of civilians in the south, etc., have been repeatedly documented. In November 1950, General MacArthur ordered the U.S. airforce to turn North Korea into a wasteland by destroying "every installation, factory city, and village." He congratulated the air force on November 8th when seventy B-29s dropped 550 tons of incendiary bombs on Sinuiju, "removing it from the map." In the following week, napalm was used to completely burn the city of Hoeryong, and by November 25, MacArthur joyfully declared that "a large part of the northwest area between Yalu river and southwards to enemy lines was more or less burning" and would become "a wilderness of scorched earth."

Yet, more U.S. imperialism threatened North Korea with nuclear attack. President Truman himself stated publicly that the use of the atom bomb was "under active consideration" and MacArthur later wrote of his plan: "I would have dropped between thirty and fifty atomic bombs -- strung across the neck of Manchuria."

The U.S., furthermore, deployed hundreds of nuclear weapons throughout South Korea for decades, and continues to deploy them on ships offshore.

Today, hundreds of thousands of U.S. and South Korean troops continue to stage provocative "war-games" involving simulated "first-strike" nuclear attacks against the north.

U.S. imperialism is manufacturing warlike hysteria against North Korea in order to justify its military presence in the region.

In maintaining its military occupation of South Korea, U.S. imperialism is trampling underfoot the sovereignty of the Korean people, partitioning the country and preventing its peaceful reunification on the basis of the independent will and efforts of the Korean people.

The 37,000 U.S. troops deployed in South Korea serve to militarize the whole of Southeast Asia and increase tensions in the region.

Despite North Korea's freezing of its missile technology program, the U.S. has abandoned the ABM treaty and is going full-steam ahead with its Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) program. Such a system will be an offensive weapon, designed to strengthen U.S. nuclear superiority and blackmail against the people of Asia. By enhancing its power to wipe out the deterrent capacity of other countries, the U.S. wants to increase the threat of its own nuclear arsenal and use this arsenal as a trump card in regional conflicts throughout the world.

As U.S. officials have repeatedly emphasized, the occupation of Korea is a key component in U.S. imperialism's strategy of "forward military deployment" to project its influence throughout Asia

U.S. imperialism is stepping up its threats against North Korea at this time as part of its program of "remaining the preeminent military power in the Pacific." Today, more than 37,000 U.S. occupy South Korea, and another 45,0000 troops are stationed in Japan, anchoring the U.S. strategy of "forward" deployment, menacing the peoples of the region and serving as a base not only for reconnaissance but as a launching pad for intervention throughout the region. Altogether over 100,000 U.S. troops are permanently based in Asia while U.S. naval forces prowl the seas.

U.S. imperialism relies on its "forward-deployment" of troops in this region as the key to projecting its influence and asserting its economic interests throughout the region. Especially today when the Asian market is undergoing tremendous growth, U.S. monopoly corporations are trying to maximize their trade and investment "opportunities" in the region.

Clearly, the real source of tension on the Korean peninsula is not the DPRK but U.S. imperialism, which has committed untold atrocities and crimes against the Korean people. The key to reducing tensions in the region and guarantying the sovereign right of the Korean people to national reunification is the withdrawal of all U.S. military forces.