Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 19 May 2018

The US President Donald Trump’s threat to deal with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un the same way the US dealt with Muammar Gaddafi of Libya if the North Korean leader “doesn’t make a deal” on his nuclear weapons programme is completely scandalous and must be condemned by the world community. Trump interpreted the “Libyan model” to mean the 2011 Nato intervention in Libya in support of an insurrection, which ultimately led to Gaddafi’s murder at the hands of rebels in Tripoli.

It is astonishing that the US President can declare that he might take out the North Korean leader the way the US dealt with Gaddafi in complete violation of international law. This belligerent stance by Trump is unacceptable considering the hopes that have been lifted after the recent rapprochement between North and South Korea.

After the Korean nation was torn asunder by the Korean War which lasted from 1950 to 1953, peace-loving people of the world and especially in Asia have watched the recent unification moves in the Korean peninsula with great expectations. Young Malaysians will not remember the horrors of the Korean war when American planes dropped 635,000 tons of bombs on North Korea, including 32,557 tons of napalm, compared to 503,000 tons of bombs dropped in the entire Pacific theatre of World War II! The number of Korean dead, injured or missing by war’s end approached three million or ten percent of the overall population. The majority of those killed were in the North.

After these 70 years or so of separation, the persistent efforts at reconciliation by both the South Korean government and the reciprocal approaches by the North Korean government have been laudable. When the North and South Korean winter Olympic teams marched together under one flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, it brought tears of joy to anti-war activists all over the world. More recently, at the summit between the two Korean leaders at the DMZ, the two leaders solemnly declared before the 80 million Korean people and the whole world that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and that a new era of peace has begun. The unimaginable had happened!

The major reason why the United States and the Western nuclear powers are forced to recognize Pyongyang is that, North Korea is now a new nuclear power. Soon after the winter Olympics, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said: “A nuclear test site would be closed and ‘dismantled’ now that the country has learned how to make nuclear weapons and mount warheads on ballistic rockets”.

It would be naïve to think that North Korea would agree to a unilateral denuclearization as Donald Trump claims. Nuclear deterrent is viewed as vital to the regime’s survival. Any conflict resolution in the Korean peninsula has to encompass denuclearization throughout the entire Korean Peninsula, including the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea and the removal of the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” alliance with Seoul.

The sober reality of world diplomacy is that the strategic concept of deterrence is the justification every nuclear state uses for maintaining nuclear arsenals. This includes Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and other countries. Unfortunately, up until now, possession of nuclear weapons is the ultimate bargaining tool in international diplomacy.

United Korea must be nuclear-free and non-aligned

With South and North Korea embracing the common goal of realising, through complete denuclearisation, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, there is actually no reason why the North Korean leader should meet the US President. North and South Korea have agreed to actively seek the support and cooperation of the international community for the denuclearisation, peace, prosperity and unification of the Korean Peninsula. It is perhaps time for the South Korean people to stand up as a sovereign nation, free of foreign forces on their land and determine their own destiny in a united Korea.

China, with Russian support has called for the principle of the ‘double freeze’ to be accepted: NK freezes its weapons programmes and the US calls off the threatening military operations at the NK border, including flights by nuclear-bombers. The US is clearly violating the UN Charter’s basic principle barring the ‘threat’ of force in international affairs.

It is also clear to see the patently ludicrous claims by the US that other countries are belligerent when the US has some 800 military bases all over the world including in South Korea and Japan, just within sight of China and North Korea.

It is time the long-suffering people of North Korea are integrated into the rest of the world, free of sanctions and allowed to develop their time-warped economy. New Malaysia under the recently installed PH government must stand with the Korean people, demand the cessation of US threat of force against North Korea and support self-determination for the Korean people. We must be part of the peace movement not only in Southeast Asia but in Asia and the rest of the world… This should also be the concern of the Reformasi Movement…

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