Implausible North Korean Threat No Basis for BMD

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					      mluil ot oen het o ai o M
     I p a s b eN r hK r a T r a N B s sf rB D
By John LaForge                                                             Criticizing the White House’s pattern exaggeration,                In October 2003, the USS Hartford, a nuclear powered
                                                                      French President Jacques Chirac has said, “The threat from         Fast Attack submarine, ran aground in the Mediterranean
The White House and the Pentagon want us to believe that
                                                                      North Korean missiles is sometimes mentioned. Quite                Sea off Sardinia, Italy. The sub’s captain and commander
“evil” North Korea poses a threat to South Korea, Japan,
                                                                      honestly, it isn’t persuasive.”                                    were fired. Greens in Italy’s Parliament complained, “Our
even the United States. Like Iraq’s usefully nonexistent
                                                                            Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright returned         country denuclearized nearly 20 years ago. ... It is
weapons of mass destruction, an alleged threat becomes
                                                                      from unprecedented talks in the capital Pyongyang declaring        unacceptable that, thanks to American troops, the nuclear
“common knowledge” if repeated often enough.
                                                                      that North Korea’s President Kim Jong Il’s was “reasonable.”       risks should be reintroduced.”
      Whether there is anything “evil” about withholding food
                                                                            Even South Korea — often said by Bush and Co. to be                In March 1998, two U.S. nuclear powered submarines,
aid from North Korean famine victims is another question.
                                                                      at risk of attack from the North — has formally objected to        the fast attack San Juan and the Trident Kentucky, collided
(See sidebar)
                                                                      the BMD program. Four years ago, former President Kim Dae          off Long Island, risking a radiation accident unlike anything
      Nearly every official government statement made about
                                                                      Jung joined Russian President Putin in declaring that the 1972     seen in the U.S. since Three Mile Island. In May 2000, the
the ballistic missile defense (BMD) mentions a “given” threat
                                                                      Antiballistic Missile Treaty — which BMD programs violate          reactor aboard the British attack submarine HMS Tireless
posed by North Korea. The purported danger that this tiny,
                                                                      — should be “preserved and strengthened.” Bush II voided           suffered a near meltdown and spewed radioactive cooling
isolated and impoverished country of 24 million people poses
                                                                      U.S. adherence to the treaty the following year.                   water into the Mediterranean for a week. Towed into the
is said to be from medium-range missiles and political instability.
                                                                            Presidents Kim and Putin further criticized the U.S.,        ironically named “British protectorate” of Gibraltar, an
      The colossal magnitude, breadth and depth of U.S.
                                                                      diplomatically griping that the Start II Treaty and the            experimental reactor repair job put the whole Mediterranean
military power never seems to enter into polite discussions
                                                                      Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, both of which have been            at risk of a radiation disaster.
of North Korea’s fledgling nuclear weapon or missile
                                                                      ratified by Russia, remain unenforceable because of U.S. non-            In August 2000, the Russian sub Kursk sank in the
capabilities. Like a vacuum that is destroyed by even a hint
                                                                      ratification.                                                      Barents Sea killing its entire crew. The Kursk’s two
of air, any mention of the United States’ overwhelming
                                                                             Real Military Threats Embarrassing, Ignored                 improperly shutdown reactors are 350 feet from the ocean’s
superiority, or the recent use of it against weak and
                                                                            While manufactured threats help fund unnecessary             surface. Like six nuclear-powered subs before it (two U.S.
impoverished states, is somehow taboo.
                                                                      weapons programs and lend psychological support to the             and four Russian), the Kursk will for decades spread long-
      A dusty headline was brushed off this past February and
                                                                      war system, real military threats to health and the environment    lived radioactive cooling water and fission products.
major papers like the New York Times reported that “North
                                                                      are treated with disinterest even if they are posed by friends           The United States’ accident-prone nuclear weapons
Koreans Say They Hold Nuclear Arms,” and that the
                                                                      or institutions that public policy can influence.                  systems, and our mountains of radioactive waste are no
declaration was made “publicly for the first time.”
                                                                            The U.S. announced in 2000 that the amount of                fiction; they haven’t been manufactured from disproved
      Well, no. North Korea made exactly the same
                                                                      plutonium dumped into unlined military radioactive landfills       Pentagon propaganda. Nuclear reactors and waste truly pose
announcement Nov. 17, 2002, and the Times trumpeted it
                                                                      was ten times greater than it had earlier estimated. The Energy    imminent and long-term security, environmental and health
then as “the first time that North Korea has publicly
                                                                      Department acknowledged that two-thirds of these dumps,            risks, not just to North Americans but to the whole world.
acknowledged having nuclear arms.” In fact, the North has
                                                                      in 27 states, are incapable of being decontaminated.                     The Congress should listen to the 49 retired generals
made similar claims at least ten times since 2003, according
                                                                            In Nov. 2000, a joint Russian-U.S. team declared that        and admirals who last spring called on President Bush to
to Chung Dong Young, South Korea’s minister of unification.
                                                                      “staggering” levels of radioactive contamination — “the            shelve missile defense and move the funds to the protection
      It is hard to tell which is more alarming, North Korea’s
                                                                      worst ever found” — are spreading from the Tomsk nuclear           of nuclear facilities and the defense of U.S. ports and
self-aggrandizement, the weapons merchants who want to
                                                                      weapons complex in Siberia.                                        borders.
sell the public useless antiballistic missiles, or the newspapers
that increase circulation with news of unverified threats.
      Hawks in the White House, the State Department,
Congress and the Pentagon continue to use the most drastic
                                                                       U.S. & Japan Said To Have Used “Food As a Weapon”
                                                                      While the Bush White House holds up North Korea as a               need of immediate food aid the UN’s WFP and the Food and
and frightening language about North Korea, always to help            threat to the world, the country has suffered what’s been          Agriculture Organization said.
justify billions of tax dollars being spent on missile defense        called one of the great famines of the 20th century. Over two      * January 29, 2000: “Food aid to victims of North Korea’s
systems. Five years ago the Minneapolis StarTribune                   million North Koreans, or ten percent of the population,           famine is dwindling”, according to the UN’s WFP.
reported without attribution of any kind that U.S. military           starved to death between 1994 and 1998 when floods and             * Aug. 26, 1999: While North Korea planed to test fire a
planners view North Korea as “the world’s most dangerous              droughts devastated the county’s agricultural system.              new long-range missile, the U.S. had threatened to end its
state and reason enough for a U.S. missile defense system.”                Private relief organizations and international observers      assistance — 83% of all aid. (The test was cancelled.)
      What a difference five years makes. Now that those most         have charged that large food donors including Japan and the             In 2001, the World Health Organization said that the
dangerous superpowers Iraq and Afghanistan have been                  United States have used food as a weapon in their on-again,        death rate among North Koreans was more than 40 percent
invaded, looted, and sold off, North Korea-bashing is popular         off-again shipments of emergency aid. Relief efforts by some       higher than in 1994 when the country was devastated by a
again. Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld said Feb. 10, “One              appear at least to have been deliberately inadequate, raising      series of floods and famine. Starvation and disease were
has to worry about weapons of that power in the hands of              the question of what a real “axis of evil” would look like.        hitting women, children and people who were malnourished
leadership of that nature. I don’t think that anyone would                 An alarming 1998 headline in the New York Times spoke         the hardest, with malaria, tuberculosis and childhood diseases
characterize the leadership in that country as being                  to the severity of the crisis, “North Korea Says Its Food Is       taking a terrible toll.
restrained.” He should know.                                          Nearly Gone.” An accompanying article on the same page                  The WFP’s executive director Catherine Bertini said
      Frank Gaffney, formerly of the Pentagon but now with            declared, “U.S. Won’t Send Aid.” The report said the U.S.          as late as 2001 that the famine had resulted in “the stunted
the right-wing Center for Security Policy, has said that of all       “urged other countries to contribute.”                             growth of an entire generation of children” and that people
the missile threats now facing the U.S., North Korea’s “is                 As recently as March 5, 2003, the UN’s World Food             were still starving. -- JL
probably the highest.”                                                Program (WFP) said an additional 325,000 tons of food was
      Gaffney was responding to the Federation of American            needed that year because of “a sharp slide in donations.”
Scientists’ disclosure of detailed satellite images that show              On August 1999, the Ohio Democratic Representative
North Korea’s supposed missile launch site at Rodong to be            Tony Hall, a longtime advocate on hunger issues, said, “The
“barely worthy of note.” The base has been characterized by           Japanese are sitting on a tremendous amount of food which
military hawks as “menacing.”                                         they are using as a weapon while millions of people are
      Confronted with the extremely detailed photographic             starving.”
proof that the Rodong site lacked railroad links, fuel tanks,              Andrew Natsios, author of The Politics of Famine in
propellant storage and even staff housing, Gaffney changed            North Korea, and a former vice president of the relief agency
the subject. “There’s lots of evidence they’re getting help           World Vision, said the North Korean famine has become “one
from China and the Russians. That’s a whole different                 of the great famines of the 20th century.”
problem,” he said.                                                         “We now know that more than 10 percent of the
                Empty Tunnels, Empty Threats                          population starved to death,” said Mr. Natsios, who served
      Twelve years ago the CIA concluded that even by 2008,           as George Bush’s emergency aid coordinator in the Horn of
North Korea’s missile capability was unlikely to materialize.         Africa during food crises in Somalia and Ethiopia.
The New Yorker magazine noted last October that the U.S.                   In September of 1997 Natsios urged Washington to push
missile defense system is designed to attack only ICBMs               Japan to give more food aid.
and, “North Korea has not tested a long-range missile since                Congressman Hall visited North Korea in May 1997 and
its last test failed, six years ago.”                                 came away staggered. He said, “We should be pushing South
      On May 27, 1999, U.S. inspectors were finally allowed           Korea and Japan to do more, and we shouldn’t wait for them.
access to a secret tunnel said by the famously objective U.S.         In my opinion they are using food as a weapon.” (Emphasis
intelligence community to hold a nuclear weapons program.             added.) At the time a fifth of the population, 4.7 million North
The tunnel was empty.                                                 Koreans, were reported to be in danger of starvation without                      DEMONSTRATE !
      It’s an old saw that post-Cold War administrations are          massive food aid.
desperate to manufacture threats that can then be used to                  In August 1999, aid experts estimated that between two              On the 60th anniversary of the
rationalize the military budget, its weapons purchases and
the war system.
                                                                      and three million people, mainly old people and children,          U.S. crimes at Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
                                                                      died during the worst years of the famine, from 1995 to 1998.               individuals, non-profits,
      In February of 2002, a New York Times reporter called                Still, the crisis hadn’t been alleviated.
North Korea “a highly militarized, ultra-nationalistic                * Dec. 5, 2002: Food emergency worsens as donations
                                                                                                                                                 churches and businesses
government that seeks to inculcate religious worship of Mr.           dwindle. (A Japanese charity sent dog biscuits as food aid.)                are urged to participate.
Kim.” With today’s Pentagon budget larger than the military           * Dec. 2002: The UN food program requested 512,000 tons,             At Los Alamos, groups will be able to
spending of the rest of the world combined, with the                  but pledges totaled only 33,000 — all from Europe. In spite           express themselves uniquely while
commercial news highlighting only the deaths of U.S. citizens,        of the shortfall, Japan, which was reportedly “angered” that
and with the religious fundamentalists claiming that the                                                                                     finding common cause in a clear
                                                                      year by North Korea’s admission of kidnapping Japanese               endorsement of nuclear disarmament
President talks with and is inspired by God, calling another          citizens, told the UN it had no plans to send more food. At
country militarized and nationalistic is the epitome of               the same time, the United States said it would “not send            and rejection of the militarism so badly
psychological “projection.”                                           additional shipments this month to keep feeding stations           deforming U.S. society and policy today.
      U.S. allies have not been taken in by the White                 open.”                                                                   The Los Alamos Study Group
House’s self-serving propaganda. Britain, France, Italy
and Germany — every member of the European Union
                                                                      * Nov. 21, 2002: The WPF said it urgently needed more                     seeks help with this demo.
                                                                      food to feed “millions of North Koreans,” because of falling                       For details:
except Ireland — as well as Canada, New Zealand and                   contributions from big donors.
Australia have established formal diplomatic relations with           * July 28, 2001: “North Koreans face increasing starvation
                                                                                                                                                <> or contact:
North Korea.                                                          and disease as a result of another record drought” and are in         <> (505) 265-1200.

Spring 2005                                                                                                                                                               Nukewatch Pathfinder - 7