Skip to comments.U.S. Gets Warning From North Korea
Posted on 12/25/2002 8:19:45 AM PST by JohnHuang2
EOUL, South Korea, Dec. 24 ? North Korea warned today of an "uncontrollable catastrophe" unless the United States agrees to a negotiated solution to a tense standoff over its nuclear energy and weapons programs.
The statement, made amid mounting tensions with the United States, came as a stiff pre-emptive rebuff to a conciliation-minded newly elected president in South Korea, and a warning to other countries that their efforts to mediate the crisis will be futile.
"There is no need for any third party to meddle in the nuclear issue on the peninsula," said North Korea's ruling-party newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun. Referring to the North Korean government by its Korean initials, the paper said: "The issue should be settled between the DPRK and the U.S., the parties responsible for it. If the U.S. persistently tries to internationalize the pending issue between the DPRK and the U.S. in a bid to flee from its responsibility, it will push the situation to an uncontrollable catastrophe."
The North Korean defense minister, Kim Il Chol, went further, warning of "merciless punishment" to the United States if it pursued a confrontational approach to the emerging nuclear crisis.
"The U.S. hawks are arrogant enough to groundlessly claim that North Korea has pushed ahead with a `nuclear program,' bringing its hostile policy toward the DPRK to an extremely dangerous phase," the state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted Mr. Kim as saying.
Some analysts here saw the defense minister's statement as a defiant response to comments by his American counterpart, Donald H. Rumsfeld, who said on Monday that the United States had enough military power to prevail over North Korea even if such a conflict occurred during a war with Iraq.
The North's incendiary comments came as Pyongyang accelerated its takeover of nuclear fuel and reactors placed under international surveillance under a 1994 agreement with the United States. That pact, known as the Agreed Framework, was forged after a standoff remarkably similar to the current one.
Today, South Korean officials said North Korea had begun taking steps to reactivate a five-megawatt nuclear reactor that had been mothballed under the agreement. North Korea completed the removal of the last International Atomic Energy Agency seals and disabling surveillance cameras at a fuel fabrication plant in Yongbyon, South Korean officials said on Tuesday.
The facility is known technically as a "research reactor," but Western arms control experts say its true purpose is to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.
"There are varying estimates on how long it would take them to reprocess the spent fuel, but they probably have plans to do it a lot faster than outsiders imagine ? and will do so if their equipment works," said an American official who has studied North Korea's nuclear programs for years.
"Here are a few of the ugly signposts we might whiz past: asking the inspectors to leave, starting up the reprocessing line, finalizing their withdrawal from the Nonproliferation Treaty and declaring themselves a nuclear power with a `Korean bomb' intended to protect the whole of the Korean people by keeping the Americans from starting a war."
Reflecting the sharp increase in distrust between the United States and South Korea amid a series of major demonstrations against the presence of 37,000 American troops in the country, the official added, "This will cause some secret shivers of pride amongst some in the South."
Both South Korea's outgoing president, Kim Dae Jung, and the man who will succeed him in February, Roh Moo Hyun, spent most of the day struggling to contain the crisis, which threatens to nullify the engagement policies they embrace.
"South Korea, the United States, Japan, China, Russia and the European Union are all strongly calling on North Korea to abandon the nuclear program, but the North is not listening now," Mr. Kim said during a cabinet meeting.
Amid concerns over tensions between Washington and Seoul, Mr. Kim appeared to draw closer to the American position on the North, saying there could be no major cooperation between the two countries unless Pyongyang agreed to international controls on its weapons of mass destruction. "We can never join hands in the development of nuclear weapons, missiles and other weapons," Mr. Kim said.
The new president, Mr. Roh, meanwhile, spent much of the day meeting with ambassadors of countries that have been involved in the region's crisis. "The president-elect requested cooperation from those concerned countries to help resolve the North's nuclear issue peacefully," said Mr. Roh's spokesman, Lee Nak Hyun.
Mr. Roh also spoke by telephone to the Japanese prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi. The two leaders "agreed to continue close cooperation among Japan, the United States and South Korea to bring about a peaceful solution to nuclear and other security issues regarding North Korea," a ministry statement said.
In Washington, the State Department said it was following developments closely. "Again, we urge North Korea not to restart any of its frozen nuclear facilities," said Tara Rigler, a department spokeswoman. Ms. Rigler said the State Department's stance was unchanged since Monday, when the department's spokesman, Philip Reeker, said that there could be no negotiations while North Korea is pursuing its nuclear program, and that the United States "will not give in to blackmail."
President Bush was said to be monitoring developments from the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., where he is spending the Christmas holiday with his family.
Ms. Rigler reiterated the administration's position that the spent fuel rods are "of particular concern because they could be processed to recover plutonium for nuclear weapons."
"They have no relevance for the generation of electricity," she said.
Recently, China, which has been North Korea's closest ally since the two countries fought the United States during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, also expressed concern over the reported pursuit of nuclear weapons. Today, Beijing urged Washington and Pyongyang to negotiate a solution of the crisis that would leave the Korean peninsula free from nuclear weapons.
"We hope relevant sides can proceed in the overall interest of safeguarding peace and stability on the peninsula and reach a resolution to the issue through dialogue," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
This means that a war plan needs to put together that allows for his capture alive...
Which allows for him to be tried, by us, for his crimes against the Korean people and hung at a gala event sometime when the weather's good.
Where are all the pin-heads that chastised Bush for including NK in the "axis of evil?" Seems like they are awfully quiet right now.
I suppose they think we should elect another democRAT president who will now give them our plans for the more sophisticated nuclear bombs, since they already have our satellite codes for missile guidance courtesy of the 'toon. (/sarc.)
North Korea now has at least two nukes, so a pre-emptive strike is very risky. An invasion would be extremely difficult.
If it were just a matter of learning to live with a nuclear-armed North Korea, that would be one thing. But these folks are certifiably nuts. Not only could they use these weapons in an unprovoked surprise attack, but they're crazy enough to sell them to other rogue states or even al-Qaida.
We don't have a lot of good or easy options.
Mind you, the NK have their final solution. So, yes, there is a solution against such things.
We haven't had the greatest relations with the Chinese, although they haven't given us half the crap on Iraq that the Russians or French have. We need to be burning up the phone lines to Beijing working to force a diplomatic solution in concert with them.
A guy I work with retired from the Army last June, from Camp Page. He has a theory that the unification of the peninsula could be brought about by a North Korean attack on Japan, which would be applauded and supported by the majority of people in the ROK. Hatred of the Japanese is the great unifying factor, and would make a US response against the North launched from US bases in the ROK impossible.
When I was in Korea back 20 years ago Korean antipathy for Japan was understood, but muted. Have Korean-Japanese relations deteriorated significantly in the last several years?
US Forces in Korea cannot function without Host Nation Support; I'd venture to say that most American installations have more Koreans on them than Americans. If the NKs lobbed a nuke at Tokyo and the ROKs thought that was just fine with them, 2ID could wake up one morning surrounded, disarmed and interned, and there wouldn't be a heck of a lot they could do about it. Same with the Air Bases. Kinda makes ya think about our whole West Pac/Far East strategy.
Read Proud Legions by John Antal for a damn good account of what land warfare in Korea could be like this go around. It ain't 1950 anymore. This book assumes the ROKs are on our side.
I'm no expert on foreign affairs, but perhaps PRC's open embrace of resolution 1441 prompted Russia and France to get on board. Traditionally, PRC obstains from such votes, as they did in 1990.
They are playing with fire and don't even realize it.
Okay, so we CAN'T go into Iraq without UN approval, and we CAN'T seek UN approval to go into North Korea. Would these insipid dictators make up their minds already!