North Korea’s Nuclear Test

October 20th, 2006 - by admin

Stephen Gowans – 2006-10-20 22:35:49

(October 16, 2006) — There were immediate reasons, and more distant causes, that compelled north Korea to undertake a nuclear test earlier this month. All of them, I think, are related to the need of north Korea to deter the United States from carrying out its threats of war. According to the DPRK foreign ministry, the test was conducted to protect north Korea’s “sovereignty and right to existence from the daily increasing danger of war from the United States.”

Washington says it has no intention of attacking or invading north Korea, so north Korea’s claim that it is simply reacting to US threats and intimidation is dismissed as pure paranoia, but anyone who claims north Korea isn’t being threatened either isn’t paying attention or is playing at propaganda.

North Korea has been trying for over 50 years to arrive at some kind of peaceful co-existence with Washington, and its overtures of peace have been repeatedly spurned. For example, not so long ago, then US Secretary of State Colin Powel rejected one north Korean offer of peaceful co-existence by saying “we don’t do peace treaties, non-aggression pacts, things of that nature.” And it’s true. The US doesn’t do that. It tries to get what it wants by intimidation.

So, Washington declares north Korea to be part of an “axis of evil,” invades and occupies another of the declared “axis of evil” countries, Iraq, and then John Bolton, at the time US undersecretary of state for arms control, warns north Korea and Syria and Iran to draw “the appropriate lesson.”

North Korea has a history of being subjugated, plundered and exploited by larger and more powerful countries. As a result, it is fiercely anti-imperialist and committed to independence. It did draw the appropriate lesson — only it wasn’t the one Washington wanted it to draw, though it was one history predisposed north Korea to make.

No Danger
The only danger north Korea poses is the danger of disrupting US plans to attack the country. It is not an offensive threat.

First, it’s not clear that Pyongyang even has a workable nuclear device. There’s some question the nuclear test was successful. Second, it has no reliable means of delivering a warhead. Its ballistic missile tests have not been particularly successful. Third, it faces the considerable technical challenge of making its bomb, if it is workable, small enough to fit into a missile warhead or an artillery shell or aerial bomb.

Still, there’s sufficient ambiguity about north Korea’s nuclear capabilities to make Washington think twice about an attack.

North Korea is very weak militarily. The US military budget is somewhere around $500 billion per year. North Korea’s is somewhere around $5 billion per year — one percent of the US budget. Its combat pilots get only two hours of flying time a month, because they don’t have enough aviation fuel for their planes.

Their equipment is old and inferior compared to that of south Korea and the US forces stationed on the peninsula. And while it has a million-man army, half of the army is engaged in agriculture and construction.

The latest United Nations Security Council Resolution seeks to make north Korea weaker still, by banning the sale to north Korea of military equipment ˆ battle tanks, artillery systems, warships. That’s not to undermine north Korea as an offensive threat, because it isn’t one, but to make it ripe for an easy invasion.

So, is north Korea a danger? As Bruce Cumings, perhaps the top US expert on Korea, put it in the New York Times on October 12, north Korea’s “not going to commit suicide by attacking South Korea or Japan with nuclear bombs. It knows it will lose. Their fundamental orientation is being hunkered down for defense.”

The US will use the nuclear test to bolster its missile defense shield plan, which will please the class of corporate rich in the US, who will rake in huge profits, and Japan will use the nuclear test to shred its pacifist constitution and take another step along the road to resurrecting its militarist past.

A month before he became Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe wondered aloud about building the capability to launch pre-emptive strikes on north Korea.

It’s clear Abe would like to make-over the Japanese military from a self-defense force to one capable of operating beyond its borders, in the manner of the imperialist big boys, and in the way it used to, when it was locked in a battle with the US over who would control the Pacific during WWII. He’s whipping up fear over north Korea to put the military apparatus in place to build a robust Japanese imperialism.

Crisis Authored in Washington
Washington has repeatedly subjected north Korea to nuclear threat. After the Korean War, it introduced battle-field nuclear weapons into south Korea, to be used in the early stages of any war against the DPRK.

North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the early 90s (but later re-joined) after the US announced that it was re-targeting some of the strategic nuclear missiles it once had targeted on the Soviet Union on north Korea.

In 1998, the US simulated long range nuclear attacks on north Korea. At the same time, a Marine General said Washington was planning to overthrow the north Korean government and install a south Korean puppet regime in its place, possibly using a pre-emptive strike.

In its 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, Washington announced it reserved the right to use nuclear weapons against north Korea.

One of the cardinal rules of non-proliferation is that nuclear countries don’t threaten non-nuclear countries with nuclear weapons. The US has repeatedly broken the cardinal rule.

The Security Council
The UN’s predecessor, the League of Nations, was once called a thieves‚ kitchen, which is a pretty good description of the UN Security Council.

UNSC resolutions against north Korea are formulated to disarm and weaken the country, so it can be easily subjugated and plundered. In fact, you can generalize to other weak countries.

UNSC resolutions don’t benefit the world as a whole, they benefit the permanent members of the UNSC, usually at the expense of the bulk of humanity.

Beyond Hypocrisy
If the US, Britain, France and others can have nuclear weapons, why can’t north Korea? The answer, of course, is that the rich countries want to preserve their nuclear monopoly so they can easily push around weaker countries.

Other countries can’t have nuclear weapons, because that creates the threat of potential self-defense. US-led anti-proliferation efforts have nothing to do with safeguarding the world from nuclear war, but safeguarding Washington’s ability to intimidate and get its way by force.

Moreover, Washington isn’t really against proliferation, only proliferation involving countries that refuse to be subjugated. The US is talking about transferring nuclear technology to India, and India isn’t part of the non-proliferation treaty. France transferred nuclear technology to Israel, which Israel used to create an arsenal of hundreds of nuclear weapons.

Washington wants to use India as a proxy against China, and Israel acts as a US proxy in the Middle East, so it’s all right, from Washington’s perspective, to proliferate in favour of these countries. But north Korea, which has sought to remain free from domination by other countries, is to be denied an effective means of self-defense.

The Real Threat
The real threat is not north Korea. Indeed, the idea that north Korea is a danger is laughable, if not, in its tenuous connection with reality, insane.

The real threat is the whole rotten system of imperialism, by which a handful of rich countries seek to dominate the majority of countries representing the bulk of humanity for the benefit of oil companies, investment bankers, defense industry contractors and the corporate rich.

That’s what should really concern people; not north Korea’s efforts to throw a spanner into the works of a more than five-decades-long US effort to take over from Japan as master of the entire Korean peninsula.

The longer north Korea holds out, the better for the rest of us. For this reason, north Korea deserves our solidarity and support, in the same manner Belgium, the Netherlands, France, the Soviet Union and so on deserved our solidarity and support when they were menaced by another serial aggressor hell-bent on dominating the world.

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