Korean Crisis Demands Disarmament and Anti-Imperialist Solidarity

Peace Congress Condemns Sanctions, Seizures and US Military Build-up in Korean Peninsula

June 5, 2009. The Canadian Peace Congress calls on Prime Minister Harper to work for an immediate halt to the aggressive and provocative policies of illegal economic sanctions, regional interference and military build-up by the United States in the Korean Peninsula. Furthermore, the Congress calls on the Canadian government to work through the United Nations to normalize relations between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), based on non-interference, cooperation and peace.

The belligerent and confrontational actions that the US has taken toward the DPRK expose the failed policies of US imperialism, which remain at the root of instability in the Korean Peninsula. The Obama administration has fanned the flames of global nuclear weapons escalation, which further destabilizes all international relations, particularly with China, and leads to a greater likelihood of future wars – including nuclear war. Through these positions, the United States has seriously threatened peace and the established, working and stable armistice in the Korean Peninsula. In its statement on October 13, 2006 the Canadian Peace Congress warned of such an outcome:

“The Bush Administration’s policy toward the DPRK is regime change. Branding North Korea as part of an ‘axis of evil’, the Bush Administration demands a free hand to punish a member state of the United Nations by economic blockade and war. At the same time, the US administration declares the DPRK has no right to self defence. Given such options, it is not surprising that the DPRK has resorted to nuclear weapons tests.”

In addressing the current crisis, international criticism needs to be focused on the continuing threats and escalating provocations by South Korea and the United States, which have propelled North Korea’s recent nuclear test and missile launches.

The actions of the United States in the lead-up to the present crisis have been particularly hypocritical, inflammatory and irresponsible. In February 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated publicly that “the Obama administration will be willing to normalize bilateral relations, replace the peninsula’s long-standing armistice agreements with a permanent peace treaty and assist in meeting the energy and other economic needs of the North Korean people.” But actions speak louder than words: within a month of those comments the United States reneged on its 2008 commitment to provide food aid to a World Food Program in the DPRK, after delivering only one quarter of the pledged food supplies and less than 5% of the pledged financing. Subsequently, in April 2009 the US sponsored a United Nations Security Council resolution against the DPRK in response to the launch of a communications satellite, even though Pyongyang had announced the launch in February.

Furthermore, the United States has continued to aggressively pressure South Korea into joining the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a highly secretive creation of George W. Bush. The PSI executes a vigilante brand of operations – which include stop and search of sea and air vessels, port inspections and disruption of financial networks – against targeted states under the pretext of stemming the development and flow of weapons of mass destruction. While taking great pains to claim otherwise, the PSI and its Statement of Interdiction Policies are an outright violation of international law, including Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Blockades, forced inspections and seizures are acts of war against a sovereign country.

The DPRK is a main target of PSI operations but South Korea long resisted participating, citing concerns that such provocative action would result in a deterioration of Korean relations. This position changed with the election of Lee Myung-bak as President of South Korea in December 2007.

Immediately after his election Lee introduced much more aggressive policies toward the North. These moves have been heavily criticized by South Korean political analysts and diplomats for being provocative and for having destabilized North-South relations. Lee’s position is clearly based on his desire, buttressed by US policies and actions, to provoke a change of government in the DPRK and to achieve significant economic profit for the South in the process.

The basic threat to peace in the Asia Pacific region is not from the DPRK, but stems from the continued provocative interference by US imperialism. The United States was the first state to develop nuclear weapons; it remains the only state to have used nuclear weapons against a population and is the only state to deploy nuclear weapons outside of its own borders. It is the United States which deploys 250,000 military personnel in the Pacific region, including nearly 30,000 who routinely practice ground invasions of the DPRK, in order to protect its economic and security interests. And, it is the United States who has refused to follow through with its commitment to dialogue with North Korea and instead raised the spectre of sanctions, regime change and now, military confrontation.

All claims by the US government to the principled right to speak on the question of peace are erroneous. Until the United States removes all of its foreign bases and dismantles its nuclear weapons stationed on foreign soil, halts its nuclear weapons development programs, reduces its nuclear arsenal, removes all of its nuclear armed submarines from international waters, lives up to its commitments of international non-proliferation agreements, renounces its “first strike policy” and ceases the deployment of its missile defence shield, all alleged US morality on the question of peace is suspect. The fact of the matter is that until the United States reduces its stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and normalizes relations with other nations, based on cooperation and non-interference, the logical outcome will be increased weapons proliferation.

The Canadian Peace Congress remains committed to its longstanding policy of non-proliferation of nuclear arms. However, the issue of non-proliferation cannot be divorced from that of abolition. For many decades peace organizations, peace and security analysts, and diplomats have argued that a global scheme in which a small club of nuclear states is maintained and counterposed to the majority of “have-not” states is unfair, naïve and untenable. It is, in fact, the possession of nuclear arms by even a single state that promotes proliferation. As the World Peace Council noted at its 2008 Assembly:

“The so-called North Korean nuclear crisis also has clearly established the discriminatory nature of the NPT regime. With development and perfection of nuclear technologies and delivery systems by imperialism, the possibility of establishment of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones has become completely redundant. Elimination of nuclear weapons is an urgent task for all humanity… The WPC demands that all countries having nuclear weapons take concrete steps for abolishing their nuclear arsenal towards the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.”

The Canadian Peace Congress demands that the Government of Canada:

  • oppose the use of sanctions or a blockade of any kind against North Korea, which will only escalate the present crisis;
  • oppose moves by any country – and especially by the United States, South Korea, Japan or Australia – toward a military build-up in the region;
  • take concrete steps to bring existing nuclear arsenals – in particular that of the United States – onto the immediate agenda of the United Nations, with a commitment to dismantle those arsenals in preparation for the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2010;
  • immediately cease its participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative and promote the dissolution of that operation; and
  • promote immediate UN-sponsored assistance to the DPRK, in the spirit of international cooperation and respect for sovereignty and the right to self-determination.

Issued by the Canadian Peace Congress Executive Council
June 5, 2009

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About the Canadian Peace Congress:

The Canadian Peace Congress was formed in 1949 as an organization of Canadian people that works for world peace and disarmament. We maintain that peace, not militarism and war, is the guarantor of democracy, human rights, and social and economic justice. The Congress is affiliated to the World Peace
Council and is a founding member of the Canadian Peace Alliance. For more information on the Canadian Peace Congress, or to join, please contact:

Dave McKee
President, Canadian Peace Congress
dmckee {at} canadianpeacecongress.ca