The Guardian 25 May, 2005

Bush has sharpened Korean crisis

Dan Margolis

The Bush administration has provoked the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula and caused untold suffering for Koreans on both sides of the 38th parallel, representatives of Solidarity for Peace and Reunification in Korea (SPARK) said at a forum held in the US this month.

During the Clinton administration, "Washington and Pyongyang were just about to normalise their relations", Yoo Hong, head of SPARK’s disarmament division, said. "However, things have been getting worse since the 2001 change of leadership in the White House."

Yoo said that under Clinton, the US had entered into an "agreed framework" with North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Under this agreement the US would provide oil and build light-water nuclear reactors, only capable of producing energy. In return, the DPRK would stop enriching uranium and accept international inspections.

However, claiming that the DPRK was building nuclear weapons, Bush violated the framework by ending the delivery of heavy oil and further delaying the construction of the reactors. In addition, the administration changed US nuclear policy from deterrence to pre-emptive attacks.

In response, the DPRK restarted its nuclear energy program and, in protest against US pressure, withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which gives states the right to do so if they see a nuclear weapons state threatening them.

"Even in his second administration, President Bush is continuing his open hostility to Pyongyang, defining the DPRK as an ‘outpost of tyranny’ and calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Il a ‘tyrant’", Yoo said, noting that "some administration officials openly hinted that a pre-emptive military attack on North Korea would follow the invasion of Iraq."

SPARK officials said the US has military operation plans, specifically OP 5026 and 5027, which are a blueprint for pre-emptive precision strikes at North Korean military sites and the overthrow of the DPRK government, along with American occupation — all of which would be staged from the south by the US Forces in Korea (USFK).

"We take note of the North Korean statement that ‘its ultimate goal to de-nuclearise the Korean peninsula remains unchanged’", said Yoo. He added that for this to be achieved, the US must abandon any plan or threat of pre-emptive attack and sign a formal peace treaty with the DPRK.

"North Korea has stated publicly that it will give up its nuclear weapons if the US abandons its hostile policy and signs an official peace treaty", he said.

In addition to the threat of nuclear annihilation of the whole Korean population, the people of South Korea are being hurt in less apocalyptic — but still devastating — ways, according to Pyon Yeon-Shik, co-executive chair of SPARK and leader of a Christian human rights organisation.

For example, the Pyongtaek USFK base in South Korea is being expanded in accordance with US attempts to "modernise" the USFK and make it more ready for pre-emptive strikes.

Pyongtaek has the best farmland on the peninsula, and the US military already controls 3734 acres of it. Now, they are trying to take another 2851.

The farmers who were pushed out of their fields and paddies reclaimed new land by draining large areas. Now the US wants to take that.

"We’ll only have a tent to live in. It’s very cold in the winter. We’ll spend all winter without heat", a Pyongtaek resident said in a video presentation about the situation.

"I would rather die than leave my land", said another. The military bases over the years have brought numerous problems, including murders and rapes at the hands of US soldiers.

The agreement between the US and South Korean government to expand the US military was met with protests by tens of thousands.

Though the new Uri Party government was elected on the basis of less dependence on the US, Park Seok-Boon, SPARK’s director of general affairs, said it has not been able to escape US pressure. She painted a picture of struggle within the government and a rising desire for independence from American domination.

"Seizing the farmers’ land", said Pyon, "is like depriving them of life itself. We struggle against the expansion of USFK bases at Pyongtaek in order to prevent the implementation of US military strategy, and to protect the people’s lives and achieve peace on the Korean peninsula."

People’s Weekly World

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