The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 74/No. 2      January 18, 2010

N. Korean cargo plane
seized by Thai police
(front page)
In an act of aggression, Washington instigated the seizure of a North Korean plane and its cargo December 12 after it landed in Thailand. Thai authorities report the plane was carrying weapons allegedly destined for Sri Lanka.

Police in Bangkok impounded the aircraft and arrested the five crew members on board—four from Kazakhstan, one from Belarus—after authorities were prodded by the U.S. government to do so. Officials say there were 35 tons of weapons on board.

The confiscation of the cargo was done under the mandate of a UN resolution adopted last June that expanded sanctions imposed on North Korea. The resolution widened a 2006 UN ban on North Korean arms imports and exports and calls for inspecting and destroying “all banned cargo” to and from North Korea “on the high seas, at seaports, and airports.”

The sanctions were slapped on North Korea this summer for the “crime” of conducting its second nuclear explosion test. Washington and its allies have gone to great lengths to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, including through sanctions that have had a devastating impact on the livelihood of working people there.

By contrast, the U.S. government maintains thousands of active nuclear warheads—some 5,400 according to 2007 estimates by the Federation of American Scientists. By official count, Washington conducted 1,054 nuclear tests between 1945 and 1992 and it remains the only government to ever use a nuclear bomb on human beings.

In response to another incident—an exchange of fire in November between South Korean and North Korean naval ships—Pyongyang has pledged to defend its right to its territorial waters off the west coast of the Korean peninsula.

On December 21 the North Korean government announced it would defend its territorial waters by carrying out artillery fire exercises in the disputed region. The Navy Command of the Korean People’s Army has stated its actions are in response to “reckless military provocations” and warned the South Korean military and fishing boats to stay clear of the disputed maritime area or risk being fired on.

Pyongyang made its announcement six weeks after South Korean warships fired on a North Korean patrol boat while it was near its sea border.

A statement by the North Korean military said its patrol boat was attacked as it was returning to the north side after investigating an unidentified object near the sea border. After the North Korean ship returned fire, it was directly fired upon.

Since U.S. imperialism’s 1953 defeat by the workers and peasants of Korea, Washington has maintained the division of the peninsula with thousands of U.S. troops on the ground and surrounding seas. Today the U.S. military has some 28,000 military personnel deployed in South Korea.

Though the conflict ended with a truce, the U.S. government has never accepted any of the peace agreements offered by Pyongyang. At the end of the war, Washington unilaterally drew the “Northern Limit Line,” dividing the West Sea of Korea above the 38th parallel separating the two countries, which Pyongyang has disputed ever since.  
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