On 4 July, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) test-fired seven intermediate and long-range missiles, including the Taepodong-2, a three-stage integrated missile capable of hitting targets as far away as the US with its range of 6000km.
These tests were expected and for several weeks preceding them the bourgeois media had devoted acres of editorial space to them. Meanwhile, leading imperialist politicians and ideologues worked themselves into hysteria in an effort to bring pressure to bear on the DPRK not to go ahead with them.
Yet when the tests actually did take place, the imperialist propaganda organs and statesmen alike expressed shock and disbelief, describing the tests as “provocative” and “eye-catching stunts”, which had tested “the world’s patience”.
In its leading article, the Financial Times of 6 July stated that “North Korea’s provocative launching on US Independence Day of several missiles, including an intercontinental one” merely served to expose the “failure of the appeasement policies towards Pyongyang adopted by China and South Korea”. Accordingly, it went on to urge China and South Korea to apply “serious economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang that they have so far failed to contemplate”. In particular, it urged South Korea to put an end to the Kaesong industrial zone – an area of economic and industrial cooperation between the north and the south.
Reflection of impotent rage
In view of the fact that the DPRK missile launches caused no physical damage and violated no international laws, under which sovereign states have every right to test-fire missiles, and in fact routinely do so (as, for instance, India and Pakistan, to name but two), what is the explanation for the hysterical response in imperialist circles to the north Korean tests?
The simple explanation is that imperialism, while arming itself to the teeth with the most advanced weapons, nuclear and conventional, that the latest in science and technology can supply, is intent on disarming every other country, especially those countries that refuse to obey the imperialist diktat and are thus perceived as a threat and marked out as ‘rogue states’ to be eliminated on any pretext and as soon as possible.
The DPRK, by its consistent policy of independence, and by its determination to preserve its socialist system, has deservedly won a place of prominence in US President Bush’s ‘axis of evil’. Since the DPRK backs its independence and its socialist system with its defence preparedness through the policy of Songun (army first), it is the endeavour of imperialism, especially US imperialism, to somehow get the DPRK to disarm as a prelude to attacking it and wiping it out.
The leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and the government of the DPRK well understand this lesson, having learned from the bitter history of Korea’s relations with various imperialist countries – in particular Japan and the US.
The DPRK will not allow itself to be manoeuvred into disarming. The experience of Iraq, if nothing else, is a clear indication of what happens to a country that disarms itself in response to imperialist demands and threats.
Notwithstanding the contrary portrayals of it in the mindless imperialist propaganda organs, the DPRK leadership is extremely intelligent and wise, and it has no inclination to go down the Iraq road. And there is not a thing that imperialism can do about it. This explains the impotent rage and frustration with which the utterances of the statesmen and ideologues of imperialism are saturated.
A Financial Times cartoon of 7 July 2006, which shows two US army officers with the caption “We can’t attack North Korea for having WMD because they’ve got WMD” most succinctly and brilliantly sums up the reality of the DPRK’s relations with US imperialism and the utter paralysis that surrounds the latter’s policy towards the former.
The panic and hysteria with which the DPRK’s missile tests were greeted in the centres of imperialism is merely an expression of this paralysis; a reflection of imperialist frustration and impotence in the face of the DPRK’s defiance, especially in view of the timing of these tests, which took place of 4 July (US Independence Day), near-simultaneously with the launch of the US space shuttle, Discovery, which makes them “look very like a two-fingered salute to the US”, to use the colourful language of Mr Richard Lloyd Parry in The Times of 6 July.
In its confrontation with the DPRK, the US is running short of options. The weapon of economic sanctions has been applied for decades and has not worked. The military option was tried by US imperialism in its brutal predatory war against the DPRK during 1950-53 and resulted in its humiliating defeat and the victory of the DPRK in the Fatherland Liberation War under the brilliant leadership of the late Comrade Kim Il Sung. If US imperialism embarks on another military adventure against the DPRK, the latter would retaliate by a devastating war of annihilation against US imperialism.
Brief sketch of US evil design in Korea
Imperialist propaganda, which routinely portrays the government and the leadership of the DPRK as ‘intransigent and immoral’, now asserts that the latter’s missile tests have a ‘destabilising effect’ on the entire region of north-east Asia, if not the whole world. The truth is just the opposite: it is imperialism, especially the US and Japan, and not the DPRK, that has for long destabilised the region, disturbed its peace, tranquillity and security, wreaked havoc on it and showered death on millions of its inhabitants.
The US has targeted Korea for nearly 150 years. In the second half of the 19th century, it tried to land forces in Korea and was beaten back. Between 1910 and 1945, the Japanese fascists occupied Korea and subjected it to brutal and cruel colonial oppression and exploitation.
In 1943, at the Tehran Allied Conference of the Big Three (the USSR, the US and Britain), Roosevelt proposed that Korea be put under US trusteeship for a period of 40 years. The proposal was rejected by Stalin.
Again, in February 1945 at the Yalta conference, the US stated that it would be necessary to establish a trusteeship (a euphemism for colonial occupation) over Korea for 20 to 30 years to “cultivate the ability of the Koreans for self-government”. This ludicrous suggestion was made just at a time when the Korean people were on the verge of historic victory in their long armed struggle against Japanese imperialism and for national sovereignty and self-determination. The US suggestion, aimed at frustrating the victory of the hard-fought struggle of the Korean people, was again rejected.
The US intentions are clearly revealed by Report No 4849 of the Information and Investigation Bureau of the US State Department of 28 January 1949, which says: “In view of the strategic position held by Korea in north-east Asia, establishment of control over Korea and her people … will considerably strengthen our country.” (Quoted in ‘Bush and his “Axis of Evil”, the case of Korea’ by Sunil Chopra, People’s Democracy, 19 March 2006. People’s Democracy is the weekly organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).)
As usual, the strategic interests of the US ruling class are here portrayed as being synonymous with the national interests of the people of the US as well as the interests of the world community.
Alarmed at the crumbling of the Japanese colonial forces in the face of the advancing Korean revolutionary forces, the commander of the US Eastern Front sent, on 20 August 1945, an urgent telegram to his fascist Japanese counterpart, Abe Nobuyuki, still occupying southern Korea, clearly stated that the Japanese forces “should maintain public peace in South Korea entirely on their own responsibility”, that is, to the exclusion of the People’s Committees that had sprung up throughout the country in an upsurge of national revolutionary enthusiasm consequent upon the success of the liberation struggle.
At one stroke, the US transformed the fascist occupiers and torturers of the Korean people into ‘peace keepers’ on behalf of US imperialism, which was then to go on to enlist the support of those Koreans – landlords and businessmen – who had profited from Japanese rule through their collaboration with Japanese occupation and betrayal of the Korean fatherland.
The US occupation of South Korea began on 7 September 1945, with the landing of 45,000 US troops at Inchon. English was imposed as the official language, all political activity was banned and the death penalty was instituted. On 9 September, US General Hodges entered Seoul, took over the Japanese fascist administration, dissolved the People’s Committees and established a cruel American colonial administration, creating for this purpose an armed force of 100,000 Koreans, mostly former fascists, criminals, traitors and the lumpen dregs of Korean society.
On 5 June 1950, a mere three weeks before US imperialism launched its war of aggression against the liberated North, US General Roberts made this boast: “My military Advisory Group is a living demonstration of how an intelligent and intensive investment of 5,000 combat-hardened American officers and men can train 100,000 men who will do the shooting for you.”
Soon after, in the manner so characteristic of its modus operandi, the US initiated cross-border terrorism against the north, with raids that numbered 270 in 1947 alone and which rose to a peak of 2,617 by the end of 1949 as a prelude to the war against the young republic in the north – a war that the finally US launched on 25 June 1950.
The DPRK forces launched a devastating counter-attack and within three days (on 28 June) were in control of Seoul. Faced with this reality, and using the most fraudulent of methods, the US involved the UN in the dirty war waged by it and its 14 satellite countries. During this war, the US killed 4 million Koreans and inflicted untold material destruction. All the same it lost, and this defeat destroyed the myth of US invincibility, a precedent that was to be repeated in Vietnam two decades later and which, all the signs are, will soon be repeated in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since its defeat in Korea at the end of July 1953, US imperialism, in violation of the armistice agreement, continues to occupy South Korea, where it maintains 37,000 troops and thousands of sophisticated and lethal weapons, including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. It maintains even larger forces in Japan.
These combined US forces – 80,000 strong – and their massive nuclear and conventional arsenal are the real source of destabilisation in the area. Korean weapons and Korean arms on Korean soil are not a threat to anyone except those who, having travelled thousands of miles beyond their own national frontiers, continue to occupy forcibly the southern part of Korea with evil designs on the DPRK. The DPRK’s weapons are solely in the interests of self defence.
The Security Council and the G8, instead of censuring the DPRK as they shamefully did in July, should be telling the US to remove its weapons and troops from the south of Korea, resolve all differences with the DPRK by peaceful means and replace the armistice agreement with a peace treaty.
It is not the DPRK’s government that is guilty of intransigence or immoral conduct. On the contrary, it is the US and its supporters who arrogantly bestride the globe like modern-day Hitlerites, invading country after country in a vain attempt to effect regime changes, and in the process slaughtering hundreds of thousands of innocent people – from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan to Iraq. It is these swaggering monopolists who are truly guilty of conduct that is as immoral as it is illegal.
Messrs Bush and Blair, those monsters in human clothing, have arrogated to themselves the right to characterise as ‘rogue states’ the countries whose governments stand in the way of imperialism and which they have thus marked for forcible removal. It is this conduct that must be condemned, not the defensive measures taken by the DPRK, Iran or Syria, nor the resistance put up by the Afghan, Palestinian and Lebanese people against US-led or US-inspired wars and suppression.
It is the US that has forcibly divided Korea, tearing apart millions of families, and that stands in the way of the country’s peaceful reunification. That must be condemned – not the DPRK, which is a long-standing victim of US aggression and threatened aggression.
The US reneges on every agreement
The DPRK has made every attempt to resolve through peaceful negotiations all differences with the US, especially over the last 15 years. Each time there is an agreement, the US side has honoured it in breach rather than in observance.
Thus it was with the Agreed Framework nuclear freeze, under which the DPRK government agreed in 1994 to freeze its nuclear programme in return for the supply by the US of two light water reactors (LWR) capable of generating 2,000MW of electricity, and the supply of 500,000 tonnes of fuel annually.
In 2002, the US reneged on the agreement, with the US President, Bush, in his Statue of the Union address, identifying the DPRK as part of an ‘Axis of Evil’ (the other parts being Iraq and Iran), thus forcing the DPRK to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), expel the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors and resume its nuclear programme. Three years later, in February 2005, the DPRK declared itself a nuclear state.
Its bullying not having worked, the US was forced to join the Six-Party Talks involving the two Koreas, Russia, China and Japan. During these talks, the US tried to insist that the DPRK could have no nuclear programme – not even the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In the face of opposition from other parties, it was forced to give in and sign the Joint Statement of 19 September 2005, under which the DPRK agreed to give up nuclear weapons, return “at an early date” to the NPT and comply with the IAEA safeguards, in return for the US supplying it with the promised light water reactors.
The DPRK stated: “We will feel no need to keep even a single nuclear weapon if the DPRK-US relations are normalised, bilateral confidence is built and we are not exposed to the US nuclear threat any longer.”
Within 24 hours of signing the Joint Statement, the US began to backtrack, saying that only after the DPRK had verifiably dismantled its nuclear weapons could the question of the provision of LWRs even be discussed, even though under the Joint Statement the US is obliged to furnish security guarantees and economic incentives on the basis of the principle of “commitment for commitment, action for action”.
Quite the contrary, the DPRK responded by declaring that the US “should not even dream” that it would dismantle its nuclear weapons and facilities before receiving a new nuclear plant.
In view of a long record of serial breaches by the US of obligations solemnly entered into between it and the DPRK, the latter had no option but to strengthen its defence capability as the only sure guarantee against military attack by the US. Hence the latest missile launches, which took place on the same day as the US launched its Discovery shuttle into space.
In this context, it should be noted that the US space programme has little to do with expanding the horizons of science and man’s knowledge of space and everything to do with the militarisation of space. Not content with having military superiority on Planet Earth, US imperialism is engaged in the very dangerous business of militarising space and thus achieving military superiority in space as well.
As such, the launch of Discovery was far more objectionable, dangerous and threatening to world peace than any number of missile tests by the DPRK or anyone else. Already, the US, in breach of its obligations under the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, is engaged in the development of a Nuclear Missile Defence System (NMD) – the so-called Star Wars – on which it spends $10bn a year, in addition to the $100bn already spent.
This programme, intended to provide the US with invulnerability, is a real provocation, a further threat to global security and an incitement to an armaments race in outer space.
In a further provocation, the US is trying, through the Theatre Missile Defence System, to extend the NMD to Japan, Taiwan and parts of western Europe – thus threatening the DPRK, China and Russia. Undoubtedly, other countries, especially China and Russia, will answer this US provocation by accelerating research into, and development of, their own versions of NMD.
Having reneged on its commitments in the Joint Statement of 19 September 2005, the US went on to impose financial sanctions on eight DPRK companies the following month (October 2005) on the basis of false accusations that these companies were fronts for money laundering, counterfeiting US currency, drug trafficking, illicit missile sales and the manufacture of weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) – each accusation more ludicrous than the preceding one.
Narrowing US options
Having tried, and failed, these various deterrence and containment policies to prevent the DPRK from building its defence capacity and improving economic performance, the US’s policy options are narrowing fast, so much so that even the supporters of the US administration are advising it to hold direct talks with the DPRK.
Notwithstanding economic sanctions, the DPRK’s economy is in better shape today than five years ago, while militarily it is stronger today than ever before.
The US is unable to mobilise much support for its rabidly anti-DPRK stance, as its overbearing conduct has alienated practically everyone. The US has become so discredited that, in the words of a leading article in the Financial Times, instead of isolating “the most dangerous rogue [ie, anti-imperialist] states, the US is today seen as more of a problem than a solution”. (‘Revisiting Bush’s “axis of evil” speech’, 8 July 2006)
The US appears to have given up on negotiations and is pushing the so-called ‘human rights’ agenda aggressively, with the aim of isolating the DPRK and working for regime change through a combination of economic sanctions, military pressure and malicious propaganda.
In this, the US government has failed to secure the support even of the South Korean government, a state of affairs which obliged a US administration official to admit that differences between the US and South Korea “that were previously just differences in tactics have become much more significant – on the six-party talks and most notably on Kaesong – so we have a significant degree of stress in the relationship right now”. (‘Disillusioned front: how Washington and Seoul are pulling different ways on North Korea’ by Anna Field, Financial Times, 22 May 2006)
In May, South Korea’s unification ministry described Jay Lefkowitz, Washington’s special envoy on North Korean human rights, as “biased” and “narrow-minded” for criticising the Kaesong industrial park, a joint project between the North and the South on the border between them. And South Korea’s President Roh signalled at the same time, much to the irritation of the US, that his government would push ahead with the policy of engagement with the North and that it was prepared to give the North “systematic and material assistance, unconditionally”. (Ibid)
Since the 1950-53 US war against the Korean people, and the occupation of the southern part of Korea by the US, South Korea’s armed forces have remained under US control through the Combined Forces Command. President Roh Moo-hyun has begun to demand, again to much US irritation, that Seoul should assume control of its own forces – a demand that comes in the midst of rising anti-US sentiment in South Korea.
More than half of the South Korean people want the US forces to leave. What is more, it is also very much on the cards that in a war between the US and the DPRK, they would side with the latter.
Not so long ago, there were massive anti-US demonstrations following the acquittal of US soldiers who ran over and killed two Korean girls. On 11 September 2005, thousands of anti-US demonstrators attempted to topple a statue of General Douglas MacArthur at Inchon, the place of the first landing of US forces in Korea following the end of the second world war. This statue is for the Korean people a painful symbol of the division of their country and the continued US military occupation of the south.
Following the 1997 Asian economic crisis, which bankrupted half of South Korea’s Chaebols (business conglomerates) and a quarter of all its financial institutions, forcing it to borrow $58bn from the IMF, pushing up the national debt to $120bn and compelling it to sell a considerable amount of its assets to foreigners, mainly Americans, at fire-sale prices, the anti-US sentiment is very strong even among the South Korean business community.
It is also very much on the cards that President Roh may travel to Pyongyang and hold a second inter-Korean summit with Comrade Kim Jong-Il, just as did his predecessor Kim Dae-Jung in 2000, which resulted in the historic North-South Declaration.
It is clear that the South Korean president is taking matters into his own hands as it becomes increasingly obvious that the Bush administration has all but given up the negotiations track in its relations with the DPRK. This increasing rapprochement between the north and the south is, to put it mildly, viewed most unfavourably in Washington.
The US no longer has the same hold on South Korea that it did even 10 years ago. There are a number of reasons for this. First, South Korea’s trade pattern has changed beyond recognition, with China replacing the US as its main trading partner.
Second, Russia is keen, as is China, to see the back of the US forces stationed in South Korea, where they constitute a menace not only to the DPRK but also to Russia and China.
Besides this, Russia is keen to restore the north-south railway connection linking the South Korean network to the Trans-Siberian line, thus completing, as it were, the land bridge from Korea and Japan to Europe. Such a development would provide an alternative to the movement of freight by sea, reduce the average journey time to Europe from 35 days to 15, and cut the costs by 25 percent. In addition, the completion of this link would give Korea (North and South) and Russia control over this important trade route. President Putin and the DPRK leader have already signed an agreement to proceed with this link.
Third, consequent upon its predatory wars against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, its support for the suppression of the Palestinian people and the destruction of Lebanon by the zionist butchers, US imperialism is not only unpopular but also paralysed and stuck in a quagmire of its own making, leaving it much weakened and thus unable to deal with crises elsewhere.
Last, but not least, is the firm stand of the DPRK and the unity between its leadership and the people, who stand ready to safeguard their independence and the gains of the socialist system. They are determined never to allow a repeat of the events which devastated Korea for the first 53 years of the 20th century through war, destruction and oppression at the hands of brutal Japanese and US imperialism.
A visitor to Pyongyang and other places in the DPRK will be constantly reminded at every step of the grim determination of its people to defend their country against evil US imperialist designs. Billboards and murals of Eternal President Kim Il-Sung on almost every public building, and on every street corner, exhort the people: “Let us exterminate US imperialists! Long live the military first policy! Let’s build a strong and powerful nation!”
The people of the DPRK well understand that they have to devote considerable resources to the defence of their country, but they cheerfully accept these sacrifices in the interests of averting their subjugation to US imperialism. The masses of the DPRK and its army men and women don’t want war but are not afraid of it; they want peace but will not beg for it.
This heroic stance of the people and leadership of the DPRK has endeared them to the exploited masses across the border in South Korea and in the wider world. The spectacle of tiny DPRK standing up to the bullying of US imperialism, the most powerful and bloodthirsty country ever seen, and doing so successfully is as miraculous as it is admirable.
Support the just stance of the DPRK
In the light of the foregoing, it is clear that it is US imperialism, not the DPRK, that is an ‘outpost of tyranny’ and at the centre of an ‘axis of evil’. It is US imperialism and its allies and surrogates, such as Britain and Israel, that subject other countries to pre-emptive attacks for effecting regime changes, not the DPRK. It is the weapons – nuclear and conventional – in the hands of imperialism, especially US imperialism, that destabilise the world and constitute a threat to peace and security, not the weapons in the hands of peace-loving socialist Korea.
Ridding the world of nuclear weapons remains the cherished objective of people everywhere. However, this cannot take place while imperialism, through the massive possession of these weapons, continues to threaten other countries’ peoples with nuclear blackmail. In the circumstances, the DPRK’s stance of strengthening its defence preparedness through advanced weapons, including nuclear weapons, is correct, wise and just.
As such, it deserves the wholehearted support of peace-loving people everywhere.
Just as the DPRK, its leadership and people, in standing up to imperialist threats and bullying, is fighting for the rights of oppressed peoples and classes everywhere, likewise the defence of the sovereignty and national independence of the DPRK and the defence of its social system are not a private affair of the DPRK alone – they are the concern of the whole of progressive humanity.
We in the CPGB-ML extend our heartfelt support to the just stance of the DPRK and wish its people, its government, the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Korean People’s Army, and their undisputed leader, Comrade Kim Jong-Il, every success in the coming trials to safeguard Korean independence and build an even more powerful socialist fatherland.
> Report of Meeting to mark the imperialist war of aggression against Korea in 1950 – Lalkar July 2006
> Channel 4 Dispatches – the case against North Korea does not stand up – December 2005