The Guardian 12 July, 2006

DPRK maintains its right to self-defence

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) maintains it has the right to develop, manufacture and test weapons as a means of defending itself in the face of heightened US aggression around the globe. The DPRK has drawn a parallel between Iraq’s limited self-defence capacity and the resulting quagmire in the Middle East, and the relative stability of North East Asia.

"The latest successful missile launches were part of the routine military exercises staged by the Korean People’s Army to increase the nation’s military capacity for self-defence."

The DPRK referred to the joint statement of the six-party talks on September 19, 2005 on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula: "No sooner had the joint statement been adopted than the US applied financial sanctions against the DPRK and escalated pressure upon it in various fields.

"The US, at the same time, has totally hamstrung the efforts for the implementation of the joint statement through threats and blackmail such as the large-scale military exercises held in South Korea and targeted against the DPRK."

While the US has claimed the missile test will destabilise the region, the DPRK argues the contrary:" It is a lesson taught by history and a stark reality of international relations proven by the Iraqi crisis that upsetting the balance of power is bound to create instability and crisis and even spark a war.

"But for the DPRK’s tremendous deterrent for self-defence, the US would have attacked the DPRK more than once, as it has listed the DPRK as part of an ‘axis of evil’ and a ‘target of pre-emptive nuclear attack’, and peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the region would have been seriously disturbed", said a DPRK statement on the so-called missile crisis.

Double standards

Australian peace groups are calling for an end to double-standards over missile tests, pointing out that while both Russia and the US performed missile test launches last month, only the DPRK’s test will be discussed at the UN Security Council.

"The United States tested a Minuteman-III missile on June 14 while Russia, on or about June 30, tested a Baluva missile which it launched from a submarine in the white sea … In neither case were calls made for Russia or the US to be hauled before the UN Security Council.

"The US and Russia retain the ability to make the world uninhabitable — or at least to end civilisation — within less than an hour, and have several times come close to doing so by accident.

"The testing of ICBMs isn’t just something the DPRK should not do: Nobody should be doing it."

Australian peace groups urge that a truly even standard should be applied in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

"Australia would be in a much better position to criticise … if it would apply equal pressure to the established nuclear powers, including the US, to fulfil their obligations under … the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty to achieve the total and unequivocal elimination of their nuclear arsenals."

A valid response to threats

Why did the DPRK go ahead and test the missiles when the US threatened punitive action if it did?

American Political commentator Mike Whitney posed this answer to the question: "Like every other world leader, Kim Jong Il simply wants to avoid ending up like Saddam Hussein. His missile tests were designed to send a message to Washington that North Korea has no intention of being the next victim of Bush’s ‘democratisation’ program. And, while the tests may have been condemned by the pro-American media, we can at least appreciate the logic of his motives."

Whitney reminds the world of the provocations the DPRK is responding to:

  • In 2001 North Korea was included in Bush’s "Axis of Evil" speech, a provocative list of the administration’s "target states".

  • In 2003 Dick Cheney followed up with a not-so veiled threat saying, "I have been charged by the President with making sure that none of the tyrannies in the world are negotiated with. We don’t negotiate with evil, we defeat it."

  • Again in 2003 US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld leaked a memo to the UK Telegraph which called "for regime change in North Korea".

  • John Bolton, currently the US Ambassador to the United Nations, offered this blistering warning: "The end of North Korea is our policy," adding that the Pyongyang regime was a "hellish nightmare".

    Whitney says the DPRK is clearly taking these threats seriously, and is rushing to develop its weapons technology in order to provide a credible deterrent to the US from carrying out its threats. He says it’s clear that the Chairman Kim Jong Il’s intentions "are purely defensive and that he poses no danger to his neighbours or the United States".

    A desire for dialogue ignored

    Whitney’s analysis goes on: "The onus for proliferation lies entirely with Bush and his team of armchair warriors. Rather than agree to bilateral negotiations, Bush has stubbornly refused to sit down with North Korea and, thus, escalated the situation into another crisis.

    "More than anything, North Korea wants assurances from the administration that they will not be attacked. The issue is downplayed in the media because [it] would like to obscure the fact that the US rules the world through the threat of force.

    "The administration will not sign a ‘Non-aggression Pact’ with North Korea because that would undermine its role as the global Mafia chieftain who keeps the weaker states in line by breaking legs. The Bush people think it would be unseemly for the world’s only superpower to seriously address the security needs of its underlings."

    International isolation

    In response to the missile tests the US has rushed to the Security Council in order to get the United Nations to back its "punitive" actions against the DPRK. While Britain and France are co-sponsoring the motion both China and Russia have stated their intention to block it. Japan, initially enthusiastic for sanctions has noticeably cooled on the idea, and South Korea has rejected the proposal outright.

    However, a Security Council veto is not the only headache for the Bush administration. The US is also out of favour in the General Assembly, evidenced by its exclusion from several key bodies including the Human Rights Council. (The US did not stand for election in 2006 fearing the humiliation of defeat. In contrast Cuba received 39 votes above the minimum required.)

    "Increasingly, nations are drifting away from Washington; a phenomenon that would cause concern among serious political heavyweights, but leaves the blockheads in the administration completely clueless", says Whitney.

    "The Bush team doesn’t seem to grasp that they are already bogged down and over-extended in both Afghanistan and Iraq. They still see themselves as riding a wave of American invincibility, but that wave is quickly diminishing to a trickle.

    "Bush is unable to cobble together a coalition for even the most straightforward crisis. While Condi Rice and John Bolton stomp around waving their hands in the air … the growing distrust among the allies and vassals has never been more palpable", says Whitney.

    "America’s leadership is not being challenged as much as it is simply being ignored. No one is particularly eager to follow the United States lead anymore.

    "That’s the unfortunate price that one pays for leading the world in human rights abuse and aligning with the Middle East pit-bull, Israel."

    While the media and politicians have worked themselves into a cold sweat and rushed to the UN Security Council to get a resolution condemning the DPRK for its missile tests, a test last weekend by India of a missile was dismissed in the Sydney Morning Herald in a five-line mention. The Indian missile was said to have been "a nuclear capable missile able to reach Beijing". No sweat, no UN resolution, no demonisation! If it was nuclear and if it could reach Beijing, that’s great news for Bush, Howard et al.

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