Jan. 23  2020
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U.S. rejects offer to negotiate

For almost 50 years, the U.S. government has refused to sign a peace treaty with North Korea to end the Korean War, and continues to keep 37,000 troops in South Korea despite a massive popular movement calling on them to leave.

Source  :  Workers World

by Deirdre Griswold

The Bush administration is already positioning itself to take its endless war to Asia, once it has established a colonial-style administration over Iraq and the Gulf area.

Its immediate target is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which U.S. imperialist geo-strategists have coveted as a launching pad against China ever since revolutionary and anti-colonial victories in both these countries after World War II dashed U.S. big business's dreams of imperial conquest there.

Washington then committed hundreds of thousands of troops to a devastating war on the Korean peninsula from 1950 to 1953. In the name of defending "democracy," the U.S. rushed its armies to South Korea to prop up the brutal and corrupt dictatorship of Syngman Rhee and prevent the reunification of a country that had been divided after the war.

For almost 50 years, the U.S. government has refused to sign a peace treaty with North Korea to end that war, and continues to keep 37,000 troops in South Korea despite a massive popular movement calling on them to leave.

Despite this intense military pressure, the DPRK was able to implement many socialist measures in the north, including free education and health care and the building of a modern industrial infrastructure. With the fall of the Soviet Union, however, and a period of devastating droughts and floods, its economy and agriculture were hit hard. This far northern land has had a particular problem getting enough energy to satisfy both industrial and civil needs.

In 1994, it shelved plans to build a graphite nuclear reactor after the U.S. objected that it could produce plutonium as a byproduct. Plutonium can be used in nuclear weapons production. The Clinton administration agreed it would help North Korea build a light-water reactor instead. Now, eight years later, the DPRK is still struggling with its energy needs and the light-water reactor has not been built. Nor has Washington come through with alternate energy sources, like fuel oil, in a timely fashion.

The Oct. 21, 1994, Framework Agreement signed by both countries was also meant to initiate a process of normalization of relations on the Korean peninsula. The DPRK and South Korea took many steps in that direction, including a summit meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, in June of 2000 that resulted in a historic agreement signed by Kim Jong Il for the DPRK and Kim Dae Jung for South Korea.

President George W. Bush torpedoed all this when, in his State of the Union speech this January, he included the DPRK in a mythical "Axis of Evil." The Koreans made it very clear to the U.S. that they regarded such language as tantamount to a declaration of war. (See Workers World interview of March 28, 2002, "Korean ambassador on Bush's speech: 'We consider it to be a declaration of war.' ")

Around the same time, the Department of Defense released its Nuclear Policy Review, which projected plans to use nuclear weapons against seven countries, including the DPRK.

Finally, in October, the government of North Korea announced that the Framework Agreement was dead and that it would take whatever measures were necessary to resume its nuclear program.

Of course, this brought howls of indignation from Washington, even though the U.S. had killed the agreement, thereby giving the Koreans no other choice.

The DPRK then, through its United Nations mission in New York on Nov. 2, offered to open negotiations with the U.S. over its nuclear program. But within a day, the Bush administration had rejected the offer.

Even members of the U.S. establishment say that what the DPRK wants is assurances that it won't be attacked by the Pentagon. According to the Seoul-based newspaper Korea Herald of Nov. 6: "Former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg said yesterday that North Korea demonstrated flexibility in its standoff with the United States over the contentious nuclear weapons issue. Gregg, who visited Pyongyang, said in a news conference in Seoul that North Korean officials emphasized 'simultaneous steps' by Pyongyang and Washington to resolve the security concern.

"'I think that they would like the United States to give them some assurances that we don't want to blow them out of the water,' Gregg said. 'I strongly felt in the last few days that the North truly fears a possible attack from the United States,' he added. Don Oberdorfer, a fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies who accompanied the former U.S. diplomat, also said the North is desperately awaiting a security guarantee from Washington. 'By suggesting a nonaggression pact, the North wants a legally binding commitment from the United States that there will be no aggression to the North from Washington,' he said."

The prospect that the Bush administration could actually be contemplating a new war against Korea has people in the north and the south enraged. Solidarity with Korea against U.S. aggression will have to be an important component of the anti-movement now building around the world.

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