What's Left

January 1, 2003

Washington violates agreement, forces North Korea's hand, researcher Gregory Elich reveals

By Stephen Gowans

The United States has forced North Korea, which suffers from a critical energy shortage, to reopen its mothballed Yongbyon nuclear power plant, after Washington violated every provision of a Clinton-era agreement to normalize relations with the Communist country and provide it with light water nuclear reactors to meet its energy needs, says Gregory Elich, an independent writer and researcher.

"Targeting North Korea," published yesterday at www.globalresearch.ca, points out that a 1994 agreement between the two countries obligated North Korea to shut down its Yongbyon nuclear facilities, which are capable of producing weapons grade plutonium, in exchange for Washington arranging to provide light water reactors by 2003.

Light water reactors do not produce weapons grade material.

What's more, Washington promised to provide fuel-oil shipments while the replacement reactors were under construction, and committed to abandon the threat of using nuclear weapons against North Korea.

Washington also agreed to work towards normalizing relations with the country, which has faced a US embargo since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

But despite the agreement, the light water reactors have yet to be built.

And fuel oil shipments to the energy-desperate country were ordered halted last month by US President George W. Bush.

The Bush administration says North Korea violated the terms of the 1994 Agreed Framework by secretly developing a nuclear weapons program. US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly claimed that a North Korean official admitted at an October meeting that the Communist country had developed the program.

"It never happened," says Elich. "No North Korean official ever made such a statement."

Twelve days after Kelley had met with North Korea's First Deputy Foreign Minister Kang Sok-Ju, the US announced Kang had made the admission. But according to Elich, what Kang had said was that North Korea was entitled to have nuclear weapons if Washington continued to issue threats.

Twelve months ago, Bush declared North Korea to be part of an "axis of evil," along with Iraq and Iran, a virtual declaration of war. And three months later, the White House authorized the Pentagon to draw up plans to use nuclear weapons against seven countries. Among the seven was North Korea.

Elich says that Kelley deliberately twisted Kang's words.

With the threat of a nuclear strike by North Korea long used to justify the ripping up of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Washington was prepared to interpret Kang's words in whatever way helped its cause.

That Kang hadn't actually said Pyongyang had a weapons program didn't really matter.

"A compliant press could be counted on to parrot [Kelley's] accusation as if it was fact," Elich explains, adding, "there was little risk that a reporter would inquire about the evidence." That expectation, he notes wryly, "was not disappointed."

But it seems that in resurrecting the Yongbyon plant, North Korea may have been outmaneuvered by Washington.

"The Bush Administration has created a situation where the North Koreans are pushed into a corner. And their bad behavior becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that allows the Bush Administration to say, 'I told you so'," says Moon Chung-In, a specialist on North Korea at Yonsei University.

Adds Elich: "The Bush Administration sensed that this was the right time to launch [its controversial National Missile Defense] program, expecting that the media uproar over North Korea would silence criticism."

That expectation, too, proved correct.

"It was the US that had threatened North Korea with nuclear weapons, not the other way around," observes Elich. "It was the US that was imposing an economic embargo on North Korea, and it was the US that had repeatedly demonstrated it would bomb or invade whoever it chose, as it did with Libya, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan."

"A disinterested observer might conclude that not only was North Korea entitled to develop nuclear weapons, but for the sake of its survival, it should do so."

With Washington tearing up the ABM treaty, drawing up a nuclear hit list, and adopting a hyper-aggressive posture throughout the world, many have predicted the outcome would be nuclear proliferation and a far more dangerous world.

That expectation, it seems, is also proving to be correct.

Elich's "Targeting North Korea," an intelligent and revealing analysis, can be read at http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/ELI212A.html .

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