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‘US should stop war games simulating invasion of North Korea and lift sanctions’

Published time: March 08, 2013 13:15
North Korea's soldiers attending a rally at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang to support the statement of a spokesman of the Korean People's Army. (AFP Photo / KNS)

The situation on the Korean Peninsula is currently very tense, and even a small incident may lead to a full-scale war even if none of the parties want it. And the US should better try to normalize relations, anti-war activist Brian Becker told RT.

The activist from the ANSWER Coalition believes the North Korean nuclear program is purely defensive, and following US sanctions on the country, compares the American policies on the peninsula with those in Iraq and Libya – not the road to peace, but to an invasion.

RT: Prior to the sanctions being announced, North Korea threatened to use a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the US. How likely is that to happen?

Brian Becker: No, it’s not likely to happen. North Koreans realize that the US, with 3,000 operational and 7,000 nuclear weapons overall, would, as Colin Powell said in 1995 when he was threatening North Korea, turn their country into a charcoal briquette. In other words, the overwhelming power of the American nuclear machine is great indeed. But I think we have to step back and see what’s really going on because the North Koreans realize that the United States’ strategy with the right-wing government in South Korea in pressuring China, North Korea’s traditional ally, to go along with the program because I think China fears, after the Asia pivot, that there’s growing danger of an actual war in the Pacific to isolate North Korea.

But what has North Korea done? North Korea has carried out a nuclear test, the third. But they’re responding to the major, massive US military exercises that are conducted in a way to stage a mock invasion and bombing of their country – the country that was indeed invaded. Twenty years ago – in fact, exactly 20 years ago – the US strategic command said, “We’re reorienting US hydrogen bombs away from the Soviet Union” - this was after the demise of the USSR – and are now targeting North Korea. And that’s when the DPRK withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and began building with earnestness its own nuclear capacity.

RT: And is this nuclear capacity though a threat to the region as well as other parts of the world? The anti-missile system in Eastern Europe is being described as defensive action against North Korea – is it really a threat?

BB: Well it’s not a threat in the sense I spoke about a moment ago, the US has such a preponderance of force. But the North Koreans, interestingly in February, just a month ago, said the lesson of the Libyan and the Iraq invasion that happened 10 years ago when the US either invaded or bombed governments that were targeted, that both of those governments had agreed to disarm, had abandoned any weapons of mass destruction, and the North Korean interpretation of that is, if you disarm, the US will say, “Thank you, let’s have peace”, but the US will say, “Thank you, now we can prepare more aggressively for an invasion or a bombing campaign.”

North Korea is determined not to let that happen, and that’s how they view the development of their nuclear arsenal – it’s strictly defensive, it’s not a threat.

RT: The US has threatened even tougher measures if these newest sanctions fail to stop Pyongyang from more nuclear tests. What else can they do short of military action?

BB: I think the economic sanctions are having a very big impact. The US is now basically depriving North Korea of access to international banking. They’re doing it to Korea, and they hope if they can break China, they will do it to Korea what they did to Iraq as a precursor to regime change. Again, I think what needs to happen is that the US needs to stop threatening North Korea. It needs to sign a peace treaty, which it refuses to do, and actually end the Korean War, rather than just armistice, which was on July 26, 1953, 60 years ago. They need to lift the sanctions, and they need to normalize relations. That almost happened in the last eight days of the Clinton administration, it was the beginning of a thaw, the US could go by that road, but it seems that the Obama administration is acting a lot like George W. Bush.

RT: As you say, the dialogue is the only way forward. But there’s been a lot of rhetoric and military action to get Iran over its perceived nuclear threat. We’re not actually seeing the same sort of rhetoric over North Korea, are we?

BB: I actually think that the Korean Peninsula is so hot, so tense, it’s the most heavily-militarized part of the world. Even though none of the countries, none of the parties want a full-scale war, any small incident in the Korean Peninsula could lead to both sides stepping on the escalation ladder. That’s how wars start, even when there’s no intention for war. The need now is to reduce tensions, and the onus for that is not on North Korea which is not threatening the US, it’s the US that should stop carrying out war games simulating the invasion and bombing of North Korea and lift sanctions.

RT: China has actually cooperated with the US, and the UN over this latest round of sanctions. That’s an interesting move, is it not?

BB: I think it’s a clear result of China pursuing an appeasement foreign policy with the US after the Obama administration announced the pivot of Asia. It’s gonna be in the Pacific waters. The US is militarizing its presence in the Pacific, China is very worried that the Korean Peninsula could become a spark causing a larger conflagration right on its own boundaries. So they’re upset with North Korea, but North Korea isn’t listening to China, they’re not thinking mainly about China, they’re thinking, “How do we avoid being collapsed, either by economic sanctions, or military pressure, or combination of both?” I actually think that the Korean Peninsula is so hot, so tense, it’s the most heavily-militarized part of the world. Even though none of the countries, none of the parties want a full-scale war, any small incident in the Korean Peninsula could lead to both sides stepping on the escalation ladder. That’s how wars start, even when there’s no intention for war. The need now is to reduce tensions, and the onus for that is not on North Korea which is not threatening the US, it’s the US that should stop carrying out war games simulating the invasion and bombing of North Korea and lift sanctions.

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