U.S. Escalates Tensions Off Korean Peninsula

April 25, 2004

Last month the U.S. announced that two Navy destroyers, equipped with the latest Aegis combat system, will be deployed in the East Sea of Korea by September. It was also announced that as part of the deployment 10 SM3 missiles will eventually be mounted on the Aegis destroyers to serve as a "long-range surveillance and tracking platform" for the "Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)" system.

In the last two years, the United States has conducted five tests of its Aegis-based Standard Missile-3 (SM3) missiles, and the United States and Japan are expected shortly to conduct joint tests of an upgraded version of the missile.

Even though the U.S. government advertises its ballistic missile program as a "defensive" program aimed at "shielding the U.S. from nuclear attack," it is, in reality, an offensive weapons system and a key component in Bush's program of further militarizing the world. In fact, in public statements, President Bush and Pentagon officials have openly admitted that the BMD system will directly target North Korea and may be used in a possible "pre-emptive strike." Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, stated last year that the missile program "should be seen as a signal to North Korea."

In addition to the recent announcement concerning the deployment of Aegis destroyers off Korea's coast, the U.S. has been shipping large amounts of military equipment to bolster its troop presence on the peninsula and threaten North Korea. Large-scale joint U.S.-South Korean war maneuvers held in March led to new U.S. arms shipments into the south, including hundreds of tanks, amphibious armored vehicles, and helicopters.

Pentagon plans for a first-strike against North Korea, so-called "Operation 5026" have also been revealed in recent statements by Pentagon officials. The "contingency" plan calls for surgical strikes by B-2 stealth bombers and F-117 stealth fighters against numerous North Korean facilities. Last year's deployment of additional bombers to South Korea and Guam was seen as part of this preparation.

The Bush administration is using the phony propaganda about the threat of "weapons of mass destruction" as a pretext for fomenting tensions and trying to militarize the situation. Its goal is to turn back the tide of Korean reunification and Asian reconciliation and to justify the continued occupation of South Korea by 37,000 U.S. troops.