Beating Up on North Korea
by Stephen Lendman
On February 11, Pyongyang informed Washington and China of its intentions. February 12 headlines explained.
They said North Korea conducted its third nuclear test. Russia's Defense Ministry estimated a blast exceeding seven kilotons.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) measured the yield at twice North Korea's 2009 test.
Condemnation followed. New sanctions were threatened. More on that below.
Pyongyang's KCNA news service announced the test. It said it used a "miniatured, lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously." It claimed the test "did not pose any negative impact on the surrounding environment."
In response to Western hostility, unspecified "second and third measures" may follow. North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong said his country "will never bow down to any resolution."
Atmospheric tests reflect madness. Underground effects depend on depth and explosive yield. Little information on North Korea's is available. Satellite images and spy planes detected radiation fallout.
Nuclear power and testing in all forms are dangerous. It's not the answer, says Helen Caldicott. Escaping its harmful effects is impossible.
Commercial and military use discharge hundreds of thousands of deadly radioactive gas curies and other radioactive elements into the environment annually.
Doing so poses enormous health risks. Payback's in the form of epidemic cancer levels.
Public health expert Samuel Epstein explained. The verdict on decades of nuclear power use is in, he says. It "causes cancer." Claiming otherwise is willful deception.
Washington targets North Korea for geopolitical reasons. Enemies are needed. When none exist they're created. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is Exhibit A.
America's been at war with North Korea since June 1950. Truman's war never ended. An uneasy armistice exists. It's unprecedented in length. Nothing in sight suggests an end game. Maybe another hot war looms.
Provocations may precede one if Washington prioritizes it. North Korea wants confrontation avoided at all costs. It wants peace and normalized relations. It wants its sovereignty respected. It has every right to insist.
China's America top rival. North Korea's a convenient punching bag. Fearmongering facilitates America's imperium. It advances it by creating enemies. Conflicts follow.
Beating up on North Korea is policy. George Bush included Pyongyang in his "axis of evil." Obama exceeds the worst of his agenda. It's hard knowing what may follow.
Threatening North Korea continues ad nauseam. Last April, its satellite launching effort failed. Washington and other Western states rebuked Pyongyang for trying.
On January 30, South Korea successfully placed its own satellite in orbit. Washington provided support. Condemnation didn't follow.
Double standard duplicity defines US policy. Western partners, Israel, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon share guilt.
North Korea is the only nation to be sanctioned for trying to launch a satellite. Virtually all countries use them for communications, weather forecasting, navigation, resource management, and other non-military purposes.
Numerous nations launch and operate them. They include America, Israel, Russia, China, the European Space Agency (ESA's 18 members), India, Japan, and Iran.
A US/Russia/Ukraine/Norway Sea Launch consortium launches satellites from international waters. They do so annually. In June 2009, its provider, Sea Launch Co. LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Effective October 27, 2010, it emerged successfully. Russia's Energia Overseas Ltd is majority owner of the reorganized enterprise.
International cooperation defines NASA's program. America's 1958 National Aeronautical and Space Act encourages it.
A 2008 NASA Office of International and Interagency Relations report titled Global Reach: A View of NASA's International Cooperation says the Agency signed 4,000 international agreements to that time.
Building the International Space Station is its most far-reaching project. America, Russia, Japan, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and seven other ESA members are involved.
The 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the Outer Space Treaty) calls space "the province of all mankind."
"Outer space….shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any kind," it says.
Pyongyang's Unha-3 missile can't deliver a nuclear warhead. It's a satellite launcher, not a weapon. Operating it is entirely legitimate. Media scoundrels don't explain. Irresponsible accusations substitute.
Washington leveled plenty of its own. Israel, India and Pakistan are nuclear outlaws. They're heavily armed and dangerous. Their arsenals and tests violate NPT provisions. Accusations and sanctions don't follow. US ties provide cover.
North Korea alone is censured. The Security Council did so. Violating resolutions 1718 and 1874 were cited. They imposed harsh economic and commercial sanctions.
They did so more for geopolitical than nuclear reasons. Preventing nuclear proliferation was claimed. Threatening peace and security was cited.
No country threatens world peace more than America. It prioritizes preemptive first-strike nuclear attacks. It maintains a unilateral right to do so against nonbelligerent/nuclear or non-nuclear states.
It wages multiple direct and proxy wars. It menaces humanity in the process. North Korea is a target of choice. Conflict so far hasn't followed.
Multiple rounds of sanctions imposed degrees of hardship. An arms embargo prohibits weapons imports. Nuclear and missile technology are banned. Blacklisting affects hundreds of individuals, companies and government agencies.
Blanket trade restrictions aren't imposed. At the same time, trading with North Korea isn't easy. International lending agencies won't help. Credit isn't extended to do so.
Importing North Korean goods requires special Treasury Department license permission. American/North Korean trade is miniscule.
Total 2012 US exports were less than $12 million. In contrast, South Korea was sold nearly $39 billion worth of goods and services last year.
Following Pyongyang's December rocket launch, Security Council Resolution 2087 tightened sanctions. Asset freezes and travel bans were imposed.
Washington and South Korea plan additional bilateral sanctions. Other countries will be pressured to go along. Pyongyang manages best it can. It's held its own for decades. It resists imperial bullying. It has every right to do so.
After the latest sanctions were imposed, its Foreign Ministry said it "flatly rejects the unjust acts of the UNSC aimed at wantonly violating the sovereignty of the DPRK and depriving it of the right to launch satellites for peaceful purposes."
"The hostile forces are seriously mistaken if they think they can bring down the DPRK with sanctions and pressure."
The "DPRK will continue to exercise its independent and legitimate right to launch satellites for peaceful purposes while abiding by the universally recognized international law on the use of space for peaceful purposes."
It "will continuously launch satellites for peaceful purposes." It has every right to do so. It added that "the prospect for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has become gloomier."
Washington bears full responsibility. Obama prioritizes conflict and instability. Peace is a non-starter. Pyongyang has no other choice.
It "will take steps for physical counteraction to bolster the military capabilities for self-defense, including nuclear deterrence….to cope with the evermore undisguised moves of the US to apply sanctions and apply pressure against the DPRK."
It prioritizes peace and normalized relations. Denuclearization talks depend on Washington and other Western countries agreeing.
An emergency Security Council meeting was called following its nuclear test. Expect new sanctions to follow.
North Korea manages best it can. Shell companies and other devices are used. They're partly successful. Trading partners go along. Many abhor, don't support, or don't care about about restrictions.
It doesn't stop Washington from pressuring Security Council members to impose them. Beating up on North Korea is longstanding policy. Expect no change now.
Washington first introduced nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsula. Tactical weapons were involved. When Soviet Russia dissolved, North Korea was targeted. In response, Pyongyang withdrew from NPT.
Targeting nonbelligerent countries invites responses. North Korea chose to develop a nuclear deterrent. It has just cause to fear Washington.
East Asian/Korean expert Bruce Cumings discussed it in books and other writings.
"What was indelible about" the Korean war, he said, "was the extraordinary destructiveness of the United States air campaigns against North Korea, from the widespread and continuous use of firebombing (mainly with napalm), to threats to use nuclear and chemical weapons, and the destruction of huge North Korean dams in the final stages of war."
Virtually the entire country was bombed to rubble. Principle targets included Pyongyang, Chongyin, Wonsan, Hungnam and Rashin.
Three to four million died. Unimaginable overall casualties were inflicted. Innocent civilians suffered most. Terror weapons were used. Napalm's effect was horrific.
One survivor spoke for others, saying:
"It fell right on people. Men all around me burned. They lay rolling in the snow. Men I knew begged me to shoot them."
"It was terrible. When the napalm had burned the skin to a crisp, it would be peeled back from the face, arms, legs like fried potato chips."
America wages wars ruthlessly. Rule of law principles are spurned. Orders directed US forces to burn towns and villages. Create oceans of fire, they said.
General Matthew Ridgway directed air force bombers to burn Pyongyang and other strategic targets. Scorched earth death and destruction reflected policy.
MacArthur wanted commander's discretion to use nuclear weapons. Doing so could win the war in 10 days, he claimed.
He wanted to spread a radioactive belt from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea. He called his plan "a cinch." Soviet Russia would have done nothing about it, he said.
Cumings said non-nuclear war "leveled North Korea and killed millions of civilians. North Koreans tell you that for three years they faced a daily threat of being burned (alive) with napalm."
There was no escape. By "1952 just about everything in northern and central Korea had been completely leveled. What was left of the population survived in caves."
Bomb damage assessment showed 18 of 22 major cities were half or more obliterated. Big industrial ones were from 75 - 100% destroyed. Villages were described as "low, wide mounds of violent ashes."
Pyongyang fears America for good reason. It prioritizes nuclear deterrent. It's best for self-defense, it believes. Failure to protect its people would be irresponsible.
What follows remains to be seen. America's agenda reflects imperial lawlessness. Permanent war is policy. Mass killing and destruction follow.
Perhaps the Korean peninsula is targeted. It wouldn't be the first time. The fullness of time will tell what's planned.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.