North Korean Missile crisis
(July 5, 2006)
For true understanding of the cause of the current North Korean missile crisis one needs to review the last Beijing Six-Party Talks held between the US, North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia in September last year, and a series of events our Administration took thereafter, to basically undermine the agreement.
After two years of on-again, off-again talks, the fourth round of the Six-Party Talks proved successful because of informal bilateral meetings held between US Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Christopher R. Hill and Mr. Kim Gye-Gwan, Vice Foreign Minister of the DPRK(Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North Korea). Once again proving that the matter of denuclearization of North Korea is basically a matter between the US and North Korea, a bilateral relationship, and actually the US attempt to bring international pressure on North Korea did not work. Often during many meetings, it was the US pitted against four of the six countries with only Japan siding with the US.
On the last day of the Talks, September 19, 2005, a "Joint Statement of Principles" was issued. The document listed following four agreed principles;
1. Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula with recognition of North Korea's right for the peaceful use of nuclear energy and its return to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).
2. Normalization of relationships between DPRK, the US and Japan.
3. Economic cooperation with North Korea in the areas of energy, trade and investment.
4. International cooperation for lasting peace and stability in Northeast Asia.
In other words, North Korea for the first time had agreed to dismantle their nuclear weapons, and denounce nuclear intentions in exchange for the resumption of the Light Water Reactors Project, that is already 33% completed with South Korean funding; establish a normal diplomatic relationship with Washington, with attendant peace treaty with US; and US lifting of sanctions and embargoes on North Korea.
The Joint Statement then agreed to take coordinated steps to implement the agreed principles in a phased manner in line with the principle of "commitment for commitment, action for action"
None of these coordinated steps were ever taken; rather, the US has begun to undermine the spirit of cooperation by a series of actions that are designed to deliberately provoke the North Koreans; North Korean hope for the electricity supply from the renewed Light Water Reactor Project was completely dashed when the White House terminated the KEDO (Korea Peninsula Energy Development Organization) immediately after the announcement of the Agreed Principle; A significant hardship was placed on the North Korean international financial transactions caused by pressure to close their accounts in a Macao bank; A fifteen year old US charge, that the North Korea had been engaged in counterfeit money trafficking was renewed; A series of attacks on North Korea's human right situation was renewed and intensified by implementation of the North Korea Human Rights Act; The US Ambassador to South Korea, Mr. Alexis Vershbow began to issue a series of statements criticizing South Korean policy of South-North reconciliation, in which he often used unwarrantedly harsh rhetoric in describing North Korea, such as "Criminal State", "Illegal Regime"
Therefore the diplomatic impasse of the Six-Party talks and noncompliance of the Agreed Principles reached by the September, 2005 Six-Party Talks is, to a large extent, due to American reluctance to enter into a negotiated settlement of the relationship between the two countries, that in return resulted in the current dangerous missile crisis, which can, if unresolved diplomatically, lead to an unthinkable horrible conflagration in that part of the world.
This writer has just returned from one of his usual annual visits to North Korea for a medical mission and attending the International Scientific Book Fair, in Pyongyang. Surprisingly, the people of North Korea are very well informed of the international situations, especially vis a vis their country's relationship with ours, and their resolve to fight against any American attack they feel imminent, is matched only by their desire to talk with Americans over all the pending issues including missiles, nuclear weapons, even including human rights situation, however on an "equal basis".
While I was there, they invited Ambassador Christopher R. Hill to Pyongyang in their desperate and final effort to engage in a diplomatic discourse with Americans, to which, to my consternation, the White House responded tersely and negatively. It is no wonder that North Koreans now turn to their missiles and, God forbid, eventually, may be a mushroom cloud in some remote northeastern part of their country, once they succeed in miniaturizing one of their plutonium bombs (we always tend to underestimate their technological capabilities)
During my visit to their national library in Pyongyang ("People's Study Hall"), I encountered a chilling slogan on the wall that translates roughly; "Any Invaders of Our Fatherland Must be Prepared to deal with 24 million Suicide Bombers (their population)".
North Korea is a member of the UN. Of the 72 million human beings worldwide who identify themselves as Koreans, 24 million are in the North. What have we got to lose by talking with them, treating them equally and fairly, and listening to their economic plights?
Moon J. Pak, M.D., Ph.D.
Chairman, US-DPRK Medical Science Exchange Committee (UDMEEX)
Member, Board of Directors, Korean American National Coordinating Council (KANCC)
Address: 811 Oakwood Dr. #201
Rochester, MI 48307