The Guardian • Issue #1991

The UN must end sanctions against the DPRK

On 29th October 2021, China and Russia circulated a draft resolution to fifteen council members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), to ease sanctions on the DPRK. It stresses the economic difficulties in North Korea and that the sanctions should be lifted, “with the intent of enhancing the livelihood of the civilian population.” The resolution also requests the exemption of: exports of seafood and textiles; refined petroleum imports cap; inter-Korean projects designed to connect the two countries via road and rail; North Korean government representatives and groups engaging in “scientific and technical cooperation”; North Koreans working abroad for hard currency; the transport of industrial machinery used for infrastructure, that “cannot be diverted to nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.”

On North Korea’s “compliance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions.” China’s director of the Foreign Ministry Information Department, Wang Wenbin, said that the DPRK “has taken multiple denuclearisation measures in recent years, its legitimate and reasonable concerns deserve attention and response.” The resolution aimed “to create an enabling atmosphere to facilitate the early start of dialogue.” The United States should propose “plans for dialogue, and take real actions instead of simply shouting slogans.” The draft resolution notes that despite North Korea’s fear of what awaits it if it does denuclearise, it has refrained from conducting nuclear tests and maintained a moratorium on nuclear tests and test launches of intermediate-range and intercontinental missiles, since 21 April 2018.

The US Mission to the United Nations replied that as North Korea has failed to comply with sanctions on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, the Biden administration remains adamant that the US is “committed to the sanctions regime” and calls on all member states to continue to maintain the present bans. The United States would veto the resolution if it were put to a vote in the UNSC. Former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said that the sanctions work as they have cut off all North Korean exports and ninety per cent of its trade, and disbanded the pool of workers that North Korea sent abroad to earn hard currency. The bans are to continue, condemning millions into severe deprivation. 

Despite their ongoing suffering the DPRK refuses to give into the bullying of the United States. Its people have made tremendous sacrifices in support of their government. North Korea will not submit to US American military threats, which is why it has the 4th largest army in the world. The DPRK knows full well that if it shuts down its nuclear programme it would quickly meet the same fate as Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan. As a consequence of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, it has been subject to UN sanctions since 2006. These programs were published following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

After the invasion, the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs concluded: “that even the signing of a non-aggression treaty with the US would not help avert a war. Only the physical deterrent force, tremendous military deterrent force powerful enough to beat back and attack supported by any ultra-modern weapons, can avert a war and protect the security of the country and the nation.” This deterrent was nuclear weapons and the systems to deliver them accurately onto US targets. North Korea therefore withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Why does the US government continue to threaten the very existence of the DPRK? According to the 2006 Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, North Korea: Economic Sanctions, by Dianne E Rennack, Specialist in Foreign Policy Legislation Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division, economic sanctions are imposed against North Korea for four primary reasons: “(1) North Korea is seen as posing a threat to US national security; (2) North Korea is designated by the Secretary of State as a state sponsor or supporter of international terrorism; (3) North Korea is a Marxist-Leninist state, with a Communist government; and (4) North Korea has been found by the State Department to have engaged in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”Astonishingly, US sanctions on the DPRK are because it is socialist.

The United States has imposed sanctions on the DPRK since the 1950s, tightening them in 1988, when the US added North Korea to its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Sanctions against North Korea started to ease during the 1990s when South Korea pushed for engagement with the North. The Clinton administration signed the Agreed Framework with North Korea in 1994, to forswear the development and acquisition of nuclear weapons. Pyongyang committed to freeze its plutonium weapons program in exchange for aid. North Korea soon withdrew from the NPT, and UNSC Resolutions were passed after North Korea conducted nuclear tests. Initially, sanctions focused on weapons-related materials and goods, but expanded to include luxury goods to target the (so-called) elites. Further sanctions covered financial assets, banking transactions, general travel and trade. Most importantly the DPRK is branded as a ‘Communist’ country and is subjected to massive propaganda by the US media.

Initial US anti-communism began during the First Red Scare of 1919–1920, led by Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer. In 1938 the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was set up to investigate Communist activities in the USA. HUAC changed its name to the Internal Security Committee in 1969 and was abolished in 1975. In 1960 HUAC published a two-volume report, Facts on Communism. The US government clearly states its understanding of Communism and why it follows a staunch anti-Communist path. For the US State Department, Communism holds an “uncompromising hostility to all non-Communist societies and the ideas held in them.” Communist hostility to the USA is not due to “any practical grievance or limited aspiration but rather the basic will to destroy the order of life in the United States.” Communists have undertaken multifarious attacks, “unprecedented in history,” through “intellectual and cultural activities,” such as education, science, literature and the arts. All of which was directly controlled from the Soviet Union.

This insight explains why anti-communism has played such a leading role in US foreign policy since the Russian Revolution. It is through this total misreading of what Communism stands for, and tries to bring about, that the US has conducted military activities around the world. The most infamous were the Chinese Civil War, the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, the Vietnam War, the Soviet-Afghan War, and Operation Condor in South America. These operations were to contain ‘Communist expansionism’. The US State Department will always treat ‘Communist’ countries with disdain as long as it holds dearly to its propaganda of Communism as a world threat.

Anti-communism also plays a part in present immigration policies. On 2nd October 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services issued policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address inadmissibility based on membership in or affiliation with a communist party. It said that unless otherwise exempt, any intending immigrant who was a member or affiliate of a communist party was inadmissible to the United States.

How can the US criticise the DPRK when its own history of crimes against humanity is so vile? Under the US’s twisted view on “communism” its forces have perpetrated war crimes in more than 40 countries. The CIA has assassinated elected foreign leaders, assisted in numerous coups, and tortures captives, all with impunity, despite these actions being forbidden under International Law. Everything the US State Department did was to defeat Communism. Yet within the US strict racial segregation was carried on until the late 1960s. Lynching of Black men was common up to the 1950s and one only has to listen to the song ‘Strange Fruits’, sung by Billie Holiday, to understand what impact this has had on African Americans. The song refers to Black men lynched from trees, looking like some strange fruit. The Beatles, when they toured the USA in 1964, were shocked at how very conservative US society was, and this strict, white puritanism can be clearly seen in the TV shows of 1950s and 1960s.

The DPRK has rightly stood up to the continued military threats of the Superpower, maintained through a system of political mendacity, manufactured by the State Department and the CIA, and spread by hundreds of journalists and academic writers through the media. It is an industry set up to construct, manufacture and perpetuate disinformation. The DPRK will never give up its nuclear program, as long as the US remains a threat to its existence.

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