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    Korea
     Aug 31, 2006
SPEAKING FREELY
Why Pyongyang is going nuclear
By Kim Myong-chol

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.

The time is coming fast to decide who is the winner and who the loser in the long-standing conflict between the Korean people, with a history of 5,000 years - proud descendants of Dankun and Paedal Korea and Koguryo - and the United States, with a history



of a mere 200 years. The Korean people have many scores to settle with the US.

The North Korean government of Kim Jong-il is going to show who the real masters of Korea are by winning the nuclear standoff with the US. The Korean people adamantly refuse to be second-class citizens, but are determined to prove that they are sovereign masters of the Land of Morning Calm.

The Korean-US conflict began long before the late Kim Il-sung and his son, current North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, were born. It was nearly 150 ago, in 1866 when the US gunboat General Sherman raided Pyongyang. The final stage of the conflict is in the present nuclear standoff between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States. Kim Jong-il and his North Korean people have long-standing scores to settle with the US and its allies. Scene I of the first stage is the declaration of nuclear-weapons status. Scene II is to show beyond doubt that North Korea has the nuclear capability to settle the old scores with the US.

The six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program are practically dead, with the US tightening the financial noose around Pyongyang, killing the September 19, 2005, joint statement in which the US and other participants pledged to respect the sovereignty of North Korea. The July 15 United Nations resolution, adopted with Chinese and Russian support, makes a most blatant mockery of the independence, sovereignty and liberty of North Korea and its people as it denounces them for their routine exercise of their sovereign rights.

The Pyongyang leadership and its people are well aware that the big powers are not reliable and their nuclear umbrella is porous and hard to unfold.

True, the Korean People's Army (KPA)is capable of repelling invading physically superior US forces, but it is apparent that the KPA, armed only with conventional weapons, cannot be expected to keep Korean land from being ravaged by the Americans. Such a KPA would not be powerful enough to settle the old scores with the US.

Some people may cite primitiveness of the KPA's hardware as a key reason for doubting that the KPA would win a war with the US. What is lacking in such an analysis is proper understanding of how war is won. Should these people's view be correct, how could they account for why the US lost in the Korean War and the Vietnam War? Why is the US losing its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why did Israel lose to Hezbollah? There are three critical factors: the first is mental, the spirit of martyrdom and discipline; the second intellectual, the art of war; and the third physical, weapons. The third is ineffective in the absence of the first two.

All the national heroes of Korea, including General Ulchi Mundok of Koguryo and Admiral Li Sung-sin of the Li Dynasty, heroically drove back invaders from China and Japan. The late Kim Il-sung beat the Japanese colonialists but was unable to stop the Americans and the Russians from splitting the liberated Korean Peninsula into two. He became the first in the world to win a full-blown war with the US, but dismally failed to deter the enemy from devastating the Land of Morning Calm as the previous two national heroes did.

Most important, none of those national heroes succeeded in building up adequate long-range attack capability to strike the heart of the enemy. All the wars the Korean people had to fight were limited to the Korean theater. Once outside the Korean borders, the foreign invaders remained intact.

However, this is no longer the case since Kim Jong-il has embraced the tamul-inspired (tamul is an ancient Koguryo term meaning standing up to a big power, developing newer weapons and restoring the lost land to settle long-standing scores with the enemy) army-first policy, upholding the banner of the samjoku (three-legged black bird symbolizing three gods - heaven, man and the good earth; it also symbolizes the sun, life, harmony and people). He has successfully equipped the KPA with nuclear weapons, including hydrogen bombs, and their intercontinental means of delivery, after transforming the whole land into a national underground fortress.

For the first time in the Korean history of 5,000 years, the dedicated sacrifices of the patriotic Korean population have enabled supreme leader Kim Jong-il and his armed forces to acquire military capability to go directly to the heart of the enemy. The KPA is now capable of detonating hydrogen bombs far above the metropolises of the US in case of war. The Koreans are now able to fight nuclear war on the Japanese and US battlegrounds.

The government of Kim Jong-il and his armed forces should welcome any US preemptive strike on Korea. If North Korea should happen not to resist, US attacks on missile sites and nuclear facilities in the country would all too naturally shower massive lethal radioactive fallout on the Japanese archipelago in a quantity produced by 150 hydrogen bombs.

There should be no doubt that the government of Kim Jong-il and his armed forces would never allow the enemy to attack first. On detecting the slightest signs that the US intends to launch a first strike, Kim would order his armed forces to move first and blaze key US metropolitan targets with high-precision nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), several exploding at high altitudes. It goes without saying that operating nuclear power stations would be prime targets, sitting ducks.

The stage is being put in place where North Korea will demonstrate its potential capability for the rest of the world to see. Korean scientists and engineers are ready to detonate nuclear devices at any time on orders from Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il. More and more nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles are being cranked out on a crash-program basis in a bid to catapult North Korea to the spot of the third-most-powerful nuclear-weapons state just after the US and Russia.

There is no worry about further isolation and sanctions. North Korea is unique in East Asia in that it has been technically at a state of war with the US more than half a century, subject to that country's nuclear threats longer and harder than any other member of what the US terms the "axis of evil". The US has applied all available sanctions on North Korea.

Unlike the other so-called "axis of evil" states, North Korea is a nuclear-weapons state and has the will and capability to torch urban US. With history as the guide, the North Koreans are great at badly mauling big enemies. They routed Sui China and Tang China. They routed the Toyotomi invasion forces out of Korea. They were the first to drive fear into US troops. As a US history book notes, North Korea controlled ground warfare in the last Korean War with Korean pilots downing many US warplanes. They helped Egypt win the fourth Mideast war with Israel and the Vietnamese win the liberation war with the US.

Kim Jong-il outfoxed US president Lyndon Johnson into accepting all the North Korean demands over the 1968 Pueblo case. A three-aircraft-carrier naval attack force withdrew from Korean waters without attempting to take back the spy ship USS Pueblo. Later, the team led by US president Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger was awed into ordering withdrawal of a mobilized four-aircraft-carrier attack force from the scene as defense secretary Melvin Laird warned that most of the attacking US warplanes would risk being shot down.

The 1976 Poplar Tree Incident ended with US president Gerald Ford agreeing to demarcate into two the joint security area of Panmunjom. The only physical action the US managed to carry out was to cut down a poplar tree with an escort of martial-arts experts with B-52s circling overhead as a one-flattop battle group steamed into Korean waters. [1]

The 1993-94 nuclear standoff between North Korea and the US is distinguished from the previous three rounds of military showdowns in that a suspected nuclear-weapons state was pitted against the world's largest nuclear-weapons state. Then-US president Bill Clinton, however, ended up striking the landmark 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea and subsequently issuing the 1999 Perry Report. In 1993 North Korea test-fired long-range missiles into waters off Hawaii and Guam, but the US kept the fact secret from the Japanese for five years. In 1998 North Korea launched a long-range rocket to put a satellite into orbit, which the US called a failure.

The current US administration of President George W Bush declared the doctrine of nuclear preemption after North Korea threatened to launch retaliatory nuclear strikes on the continental US. North Korea has test-fired ICBMs and now threatens to conduct nuclear-detonation experiments. The most significant aspect about the ongoing nuclear standoff is that Bush has allowed Kim Jong-il to earn North Korea the most coveted membership of the elite nuclear club.

Since his country is now a member of the nuclear club, Kim has lost any appetite for talks with the US. His interest is in how to settle the long-standing scores of the Korean people with the US.

Former US president Jimmy Carter noted in a September 2, 2003, op-ed in USA Today: "It is a cultural and almost sacred commitment for its [North Korea's] leaders not to back down, even in the face of international condemnation and the most severe political and economic pressure ... Notwithstanding their abysmal economic failures and the resulting hardships of their people, North Korean leaders have never deviated from a commitment to military strength. They maintain a formidable army, with artillery and missiles able to wreak great destruction on Seoul and the northern portion of South Korea, regardless of how much punishment North Koreans might have to absorb during a US attack or counterattack. The development of advanced rocketry and now a potential nuclear capability is further proof of their scientific resources."

Note
1. The Poplar Tree Incident, also known as the Ax Murder Incident, occurred after the United Nations Command sent five Korean Service Corps personnel into the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone to trim a 30-meter poplar tree that was blocking the view of North Korean troops' activities. A dispute with Northern troops followed, resulting in KPA soldiers attacking the tree-trimming party with axes. Several South Koreans were injured and two US soldiers died.

Kim Myong-chol is author of a number of books and papers in Korean, Japanese and English on North Korea. He is executive director of the Center for Korean-American Peace. He has a PhD from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's Academy of Social Sciences and is often called an "unofficial" spokesman of Kim Jong-il and North Korea.

(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.


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