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Vol. 77/No. 6      February 18, 2013

Washington, UN Security Council
tighten sanctions on North Korea
(front page)
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved tighter sanctions on North Korea Jan. 22 in retaliation for launching a satellite into space Dec. 12.

The Security Council demanded that Pyongyang “not conduct any further launches that use ballistic missile technology.” The day of the launch the White House released a statement from the National Security Council calling it “a highly provocative act that threatens regional security … and undermines the global non-proliferation regime.”

The governments that voted for the resolution know that “ballistic missile technology is the only means for launching a satellite,” the Foreign Ministry of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the next day, denouncing the “double standards” of Security Council members. “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.”

The Security Council called for stepped-up enforcement of six previous resolutions aimed at blocking North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile delivery systems. Those measures include bans on North Korean arms imports and exports and calls for inspecting and destroying “all banned cargo… on the high seas, at seaports, and airports.”

In the new resolution “a ‘catch-all’ system was introduced,” reports South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh, “according to which a member country that judges that a given item might be used for military purposes can prohibit it from being exported, even if it is not on the list of items placed under embargo by previous resolutions.”

The resolution imposes a travel ban and asset freeze on four North Korean bank and space technology officials and freezes the assets of six banks and government bodies.

The Chinese government, North Korea’s largest trading partner, voted in favor of sanctions, the third time it has done so since 2006.

Highlighting the double standard toward the North, the South Korean government Jan. 30 launched a satellite into space, after several previous failed attempts, without a peep of protest from the U.N. or Washington.

In response to the stepped-up sanctions, North Korea’s National Defense Commission issued a statement Jan. 24 announcing its intention to push ahead with nuclear weapons development: “We will not hide the fact that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets will be launched and a nuclear test of a higher level will be carried out during the next phase of the anti-U.S. struggle,” it said.

The U.S. government has a long history of aggression against Korea, from the U.S. occupation and forced division of the country into North and South—with the agreement of Moscow—following World War II to the 1950-53 Korean War, waged by Washington under the U.N. flag, and the backing of successive capitalist-landlord military dictatorships in the South.

In the course of the Korean War, the U.S. military leveled almost every building in the North, forcing factories to operate underground. U.S. airstrikes also destroyed major dams, wiping out large swatches of agricultural land.

In 1953, after North Korea with the aid of Chinese troops fought the U.S-led forces to a stalemate and dealt U.S. imperialism its first military defeat, Washington agreed to a cease-fire. To this day the U.S. government has refused to sign a formal peace treaty, despite numerous requests from Pyongyang, and remains officially at war with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Economic sanctions banning trade with North Korea that were put in place in 1950, three days after the start of the war, have never been lifted.

There are still some 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea and some 47,000 across the Korea Strait in Japan. U.S. stealth bombers at Japanese and Guam airbases can reach North Korea within an hour.

According to the Arms Control Association, U.S. forces had 100 tactical nuclear weapons based in South Korea until at least September 1991, when President George H. Bush announced that he was withdrawing tactical nukes deployed abroad. And Washington helped Seoul sweep under the rug the fact that as recently as 2000 it produced nuclear weapons-grade plutonium and uranium in experiments hidden from the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency.

Negotiations with Washington

Over the last two decades Washington has participated in numerous on-again, off-again negotiations with Pyongyang, insisting that North Korea end its programs to develop nuclear weapons, while defending U.S. deployment of nuclear weapons worldwide.

In 1994, Washington and Pyongyang adopted an “Agreed Framework,” which called for the eventual elimination of nuclear weapon programs in the North. As part of the agreement two light water reactors for electrical generation were to be built in the North along with annual shipments of fuel oil until the plant goes on line. But that agreement broke down as Washington balked at carrying out its end of the bargain. It was announced in 2006 that the plants won’t be built.

In February 2012 an agreement was announced that Pyongyang would suspend operations at its Yongbyon uranium plant and that Washington would provide 240,000 metric tons of food aid. The following month Washington suspended the food delivery after North Korea announced it would launch a satellite.

Pyongyang continues to demonstrate its interest in seeking resolution to tensions with Washington on terms that respect Korean sovereignty.

In the midst of stepped-up sanctions, Pyongyang welcomed former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt on a four-day unofficial trip to North Korea Jan. 7. Three weeks later Google added information to Google maps on North Korea for the first time, including streets, government buildings and landmarks.  

Related articles:
Tokyo steps up use of military, strengthens US, other alliances
Imperialists ‘pivot’ to counter China, isolate N. Korea
Australia, UK summit deepens military ties
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