Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the Road to Peace
KO YOUNG DAE / SPARK (KOREA)
1. Seeds of the Nuclear Crisis in Korea – Sown by the United States
- During the Korean War, the United States twice threatened the use of nuclear weapons.
- In 1957 the United States deployed tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea.
-The United States prevented South Korea from developing its own nuclear weapons; in exchange, in 1978, the United States pledged to provide its nuclear umbrella to South Korea. This is a violation of article 1 and 2 of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). A 1978 report published at the request of the U.S. Defense Department features a scenario of launching 30 rounds of nuclear weapons to stop the North Korean military from invading the south.
- The United States insists it withdrew all tactical nuclear weapons deployed in South Korea in 1991, but this has yet to be verified.
- In 1994, the Clinton administration reviewed the possibility of conducting a “precision attack” against North Korea; simulations projected 50,000 U.S. troops and 490,000 South Korean troops dead within 90 days.
- From January through June 1998, the United States conducted BDU 38, exercises simulating dropping nuclear bombs over Korea, at the Seymour Johnson naval base in North Carolina.
- The Bush administration started to develop smaller nuclear bombs capable of destroying North Korea’s underground facilities.
- At the 2006 Security Consultative Meeting, South Korea and the United States issued a joint declaration and introduced the concept of extended deterrence.
- Currently, the United States is constructing the “Korea Combat Command” (USFK Command) in preparation for a nuclear war against North Korea. It is the only such facility outside of the White House and NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command).
2. U.S. Nuclear Threat against North Korea through the ROK-US Alliance and North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons
ROK-US alliance – an Alliance as a Provisional War Community
- On August 8 1953, only two weeks after the signing of the Korean War Armistice, South Korea and the United States signed the Mutual Defense Treaty and entered into an alliance. An alliance is a provisional war community and the ROK-US alliance is fundamentally premised on a potential war against North Korea. The Mutual Defense Treaty is in violation of Article IV 60 of the Armistice, which says “the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, and the peaceful settlement of the Korean question” should be resolved peacefully within three months of the signing of the Armistice, as well as Article II Paragraph 12, which stipulated the “complete cessation of all hostilities in Korea.”
U.S.’ Hostile Military Policy toward North Korea
- The ultimate aim of U.S. military strategy towards North Korea is occupation and regime change
- OPLAN 5027-98 introduced the strategy of preemptive strike for the first time, and OPLAN 5027-04 includes the strategy of missile defense construction.
- OPLAN 5029 is a provocative plan that envisions U.S. military intervention in North Korea even at a time of a natural disaster, and the seizure of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and material by the United States.
- A forceful intervention in North Korea at a time of crisis is in violation of article 2 of the UN Charter, which prohibits foreign interference through use of force in the domestic affairs of sovereign nations, as well as the South Korean Constitution, which denounces invasive wars and affirms the pursuit of peaceful reunification.
- The aim of OPLAN 5026 is pinpoint strikes against approximately 700 North Korean targets, including nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons facilities and command centers.
- In preparation for the 2012 transfer of wartime operational control, the South Korean and US militaries drafted the “New Combined Operational Plan of 5012,” which combines OPLANs 5027, 5026, etc. into one comprehensive plan
- U.S. Strategic Command’s OPLAN 8010 outlines pinpoint precision attacks against North Korean targets, destruction of underground facilities, cyber war to paralyze North Korea’s missile and aerial defense, and strategic nuclear attack against North Korea. 8010 is the first operation plan developed based on the concept of “New Triad” introduced in the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review – offense, defense, infrastructure to support offense/defense
- US Strategic Command’s Center for Combating WMD also plans to carry out a nuclear attack against North Korea through CONPLAN 8099.
- Nuclear war plans of the U.S. Strategic Command, charged with commanding a strategic nuclear attack against North Korea, and the U.S. Pacific Command, charged with commanding tactical attacks, complement each other.
North Korea’s Withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), and Development of Nuclear Weapons
- North Korea joined the NPT in December 1985 and signed a safeguards agreement with the IAEA in April 1992.
- In March 1993 North Korea defied U.S. and IAEA requests for special inspections of an undeclared nuclear facility in Yongbyon and declared its intention to withdraw from the IAEA. The IAEA’s request for special inspections of North Korea’s undeclared nuclear facility was unreasonable. According to the safeguards agreement it signed with North Korea, even a special inspection can only be carried out at eclared facilities.
- Article 10 paragraph 1 of the NPT guarantees parties the right to withdraw “in exercising its national sovereignty” “if extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country”
- After its declaration of intent to withdraw, North Korea secured through negotiations a negative security assurance from the United States - meaning the United States pledges not to threaten use of conventional force or nuclear weapons against North Korea - and shelved its plans to withdraw from the NPT in June of that year.
- In 1994, North Korea and the United States concluded the Agreed Framework to address the so-called first North Korean nuclear crisis. Article 3 paragraph 1 of this agreement guarantees North Korea negative security assurance. Accordingly, U.S.’ extended deterrence guarantees for South Korea contradicts its duty to provide negative security assurance for North Korea.
- North Korea faithfully carried out its responsibilities as defined by the Geneva Agreement by freezing its nuclear reactors and related facilities, sealing its spent plutonium fuel rods, and adhering to the NPT. Former President Clinton acknowledged that until the end of his administration, North Korea had faithfully implemented the Geneva Agreement
- On the contrary, the Bush administration, from the very beginning, revealed its intention to undermine the Geneva Agreement, and violated the agreement by ignoring the 2003 deadline for providing light water reactors as well as its pledge to normalize relations with North Korea.
- In addition, in its 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, the Bush administration identified North Korea as a target for nuclear preemptive strike (effectively nullifying its negative security assurance for North Korea) and carried out an illegal invasion and regime change in Iraq, which had been labeled by the Defense Department as a “chronic military concern” along with North Korea. These events were decisive in pushing North Korea to develop nuclear weapons.
- In October 2002, right after visiting North Korea, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State James Kelly made the baseless announcement that North Korea had admitted to having plans for uranium enrichment. This was the beginning of the second so-called North Korean nuclear crisis.
- On November 14, the Bush administration stopped its heavy oil shipments to North Korea, and on December 19, illegally seized a North Korean ship carrying missiles headed for Yemen.
- These series of provocations by the Bush administration were designed to create a justification to abandon the Geneva Agreement, disrupt relations between North and South Korea, and restrain Japan, which had started to improve relations with North Korea after the Pyeongyang declaration of September 17, 2000.
- North Korea responded by reversing its nuclear freeze on December 12 2002 and withdrawing from the NPT as well as its safeguard agreement with the IAEA on January 10, 2003.
- The September 19 2005 joint statement of the six party talks seemed to resolve the second so-called North Korean nuclear crisis. But the very next day, the Bush administration undermined the agreement by imposing the BDA financial sanctions on North Korea.
- North Korea responded to this duplicitous action of the United States with its first nuclear test on October 9, 2006.
- In this way, North Korea’s nuclear weapons development occurred within a four year time period after the Bush administration unilaterally breached the Geneva Agreement.
- In its North Korea report (April 2007), the U.S.-based Atlantic Council pointed to U.S. hostile military plans against North Korea as the main reason behind North Korea’s nuclear weapons development.
3. Collapse of the Six Party Talks
- The last meeting of the six party talks in December 2008 collapsed due to a conflict over the issue of verification.
- The United States demanded full access to all facilities and locations related to North Korea’s nuclear program. But such a verification demand is unreasonable and goes beyond the agreement reached at head representatives meeting in the sixth six party talks on July 12, 2008 – which had produced an agreement on visitation of facilities, review of documents, interview of engineers, and other measures by a unanimous agreement of all parties.
- David Albright, Director of the U.S. Institute for Science and International Security criticized the U.S. position on verification as tantamount to “demanding the right to inspect the DPRK’s military facilities,” a “demand which no sovereign nation can accept.”
- North Korea counter-proposed to U.S. envoy Christopher Hill visiting Pyeongyang in October 2008 to discuss the verification issue as part of a broader conversation on mutual verification of nuclear facilities in both North and South Korea as well as other pending military issues such the signing of a Peace Treaty to end the Korean War.
- The United States did not reply to North Korea’s proposal; instead it reiterated its verification demand as a pre-condition to implementing the third phase of the September 19 joint statement.
- In a speech at the Heritage Foundation, former State Secretary Rice who had been the main driving force behind the verification demand, later admitted that the United States moved the goalposts on North Korea – “What we've done, in a sense, is move up from issues that were to be taken up in phase three, like the verification, like access to the reactor, into phase two.”
4. Status of North Korea’s Nuclear Capability, and its Position and Conditions for Denuclearization
- On July 20 2009, U.S. State Secretary Hilary Clinton said in an interview broadcast on ABC, “North Korea’s military capacity is not a threat to us.”
- On May 30, 2009, Defense Secretary Gates announced, “North Korea’s nuclear threat does not pose a direct military threat to the United States.”
- These statements are intended to downplay North Korea’s leverage in negotiations, but clearly contradict the insistence of the former Bush administration, which had the tendency to exaggerate North Korea as a threat
- In a Ministry of Foreign Affairs declaration on January 10, 2010, North Korea announced, “Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is a policy goal that the DPRK government has steadfastly upheld to contribute to the peace and security of Northeast Asia and global denuclearization. The conclusion of a Peace Treaty will dissolve the enmity between the United States and North Korea and bring about the speedy denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
- In a Ministry of Foreign Affairs memorandum dated April 21, 2010, North Korea stated, “The DPRK’s position of willingness to establish a stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula and carry out denuclearization remains unchanged.”
- Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea’s head representative to the Six Party Talks, proposed to Bosworth visiting Pyeongyang February 3~7 2009, the following conditions for abolishing North Korea’s nuclear weapons – U.S. abandonment of hostile policies against North Korea, elimination of the U.S. nuclear umbrella in South Korea, and the abolishment of the ROK-US alliance.
- In its 2010 new year message, North Korea announced, “Our position of willingness to establish a stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula through dialogue and negotiation and carry out denuclearization remains consistent.”
5. Withdrawal of U.S. Troops and Conclusion of a Peace Treaty
Will the Withdrawal U.S. Troops Jeopardize South Korea’s National Security?
- In 2008, North Korea’s defense budget was 0 million (Ministry of Unification Estimate) while South Korea’s was 45 times higher at .7 billion.
- In a report to the Blue House, the South Korean Ministry of Information says, “Even without U.S. Forces in Korea and South Korean reserve forces, the ROK military is approximately 10% more superior than the north.”
- North Korea’s nuclear capacity (1-8 tactical nuclear weapons) has significance as a deterrent and self-defense measure, but it is offensively and militarily insignificant.
Are U.S. Forces in Korea there for Benevolent Reasons?
- From 1989 to 2008, the amount of money that South Korea contributed to U.S. Forces in Korea in direct cash contribution as mandated by the "Special Measure Agreement" of the Status of Forces Agreement is .1 billion. If we add to this the billion South Korea pays in direct support (e.g. provision of South Korean military and law enforcement personnel to U.S. Forces in Korea) as well as indirect support (e.g. land provided free of charge) for U.S. Forces in Korea (0 million in 1999 x 20 years), it comes out to billion, which well exceeds the total property value of the USFK estimated at .6 billion (according to the U.S. Defense Department – September 2008).
- In 2004, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that withdrawing U.S. troops from Korea and leaving only 1000 ground troops will on the one hand save 5 million a year, but will mean the need to construct new bases to house these troops in the United States, which require an additional .6 billion. The United States saves money by keeping its troops in Korea and reducing its constructions costs.
- If we compare the amount of money spent by South Korea, Japan, and Germany in support of U.S. forces stationed in each respective country, South Korea spends 0.16% of its GDP, while Japan spends 0.13% and Germany 0.07%.
Recent Calls within the United States that Hint at the Possibility of the Withdrawal of Troops from Korea
- According to Article IV 60 of the Korean War Armistice agreement, concluding a Peace Treaty and withdrawing U.S. troops from Korea are responsibilities of all parties mandated by international law.
- Democrat Congressman Ron Paul of Texas stated in his 2003 resolution to Congress entitled “Korea-United States Normalization” - “We cannot deploy our troops in South Korea any more when it is increasingly clear that they (USFK) are actually having a destabilizing effect and may be hindering a North-South rapprochement.”
- Democrat Congressman Gene Taylor of Mississippi wanted to know at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on March 25, 2010, “At what point can we declare victory and bring back home the 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in Korea? For how much longer do we need to be there?”
- Republican Congressman Mike Kaufman of Colorado also asked at the same House Armed Services Committee hearing, “At a time like today, is there still a need to keep 28,000 troops permanently stationed in Korea?”
Concluding a Peace Treaty to End the Korean War is a Pre-requisite for Peace on the Korean Peninsula
- According to Article 4 60 of the Armistice agreement, a political conference to discuss a Peace Treaty was held from April 26 through June 15 in 1954 in Geneva, but the talks broke down without resolving the gap among the parties’ positions on the question of reunification and the withdrawal of foreign troops. Since then, for sixty years, the conclusion of a Peace Treaty has remained the most urgent task for peace on the Korean peninsula and our nation’s co-existence and prosperity.
- The conclusion of a Peace Treaty, which includes the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, withdrawal of US troops, abolishment of the ROK-US alliance, and mutual disarmament between north and south, is a basic condition for the realization of peace on the Korean peninsula. Addressing the main threats to peace on the Korean peninsula in a Peace Treaty with international legal force is a way to ensure the establishment of a stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula,
- The Conclusion of a Peace Treaty on the Korean peninsula is the most rational solution to balance the interest of state parties to the Armistice Agreement on the Korean peninsula towards permanent peace.
- The conclusion of a Peace Treaty will provide a beachhead for the realization of national self-reliance by securing the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the abolishment of the ROK-US alliance, and eliminate the ultimate obstacle to reunification by dissolving the hostile relations between North and South Korea and between North Korea and the United States; thus, it will be the gateway to reunification.