Recommendations for Peace on the Korean Peninsula
Recommendations for Peace on the Korean Peninsula
The irrational war of nerves taking place between the United States and North Korea is raising the level of danger on the Korean peninsula. North Korea has threatened that it can carry out nuclear tests, while the Bush administration regards such assertions as intimidation and still refuses to work toward a compromise. In this tense situation we cannot exclude the possibility of extreme action on the part of North Korea and the Bush administration seems to threaten containment and isolation, giving the impression that Washington is considering a plan to bring about the internal collapse of the regime in Pyongyang. Such interaction is a significant threat to the tens of thousands of residents and property of the Korean peninsula. As a party involved in this dangerous situation we wish to propose some alternative approaches for a peaceful and rational solution to the problem and seek cooperation and understanding from the United States and US civil society.
The terrible catastrophe that would result for the people of Korea, Northeast Asia, and the world from the use of nuclear weapons anywhere on the Korean peninsula must by all means be avoided. North Korea's pursuit of a nuclear program, rather than constituting a means for its survival, is likely to be detrimental to its survival. The Bush administration must never use military force to solve the problem. Through the use of military force by either side the entire Korean peninsula would erupt into a major war, and regardless of who gains victory or suffers defeat the Korean people and the US forces in Korea would both incur great losses. If military force is used, not only the Korean peninsula but also, Northeast Asia and the whole world may face the danger of a possible wartime calamity. As in the First World War and others after it the intention was not to have war, however, war eventually broke out. Therefore, the threat of war even as a negotiation strategy should not be used to persuade North Korea as the situation for both countries could spin out of control and unintended consequences could lead to a tragedy. The answer is clear. The US and North Korea must start genuine dialogue that is built on mutual respect.
The alleged HEUP that has caused the current nuclear crisis has not been proven to actually exist. To ascertain whether ambiguous assertions and emotional accusations have given rise to this deadlocked situation, the international community and both parties need to take a look back at the origin of the problem. Since the Bush administration first suggested that there was evidence of a program to enrich uranium, the burden of proof is on the United States. Washington has to make available to the international community the evidence it claims to have. Especially, since the HEUP North Korea is said to possess is based on dual use technology (i.e., civilian and military), the current situation needs to be clarified in terms of the probability that it will produce nuclear weapons and the estimated size of the program. If such convincing evidence is made available, then the international community can grant justification to Washington's hardline policy toward North Korea and form an effective means to achieve multilateral cooperation in rebuking Pyongyang. If North Korea and the United States continue with an attitude of indifference toward removing the ambiguity about the HEUP, then the international community should seriously consider bringing pressure to South Korean and Japanese governments to make public the evidence that Seoul and Tokyo were presented with before special envoy Kelly visited North Korea in October 2002.
The Bush administration believes that a verbal promise of non-aggression toward North Korea is sufficient and therefore the signing of a treaty is not needed. However, North Korea feels that it cannot trust an administration that defined its regime in a Christian context as evil. Evil is not something to be rewarded, even if it performs good deeds. Rather, it is the object of annihilation. Therefore, North Korea believes that it cannot trust the Bush administration and only wants a treaty that the Congress, which represents the people of the United States, can ratify. However, from the Bush administration's point of view, a treaty ratified by Congress would be a confession of its own diplomatic incompetence and injustice, which would only serve to discredit the administration. Therefore, this becomes an unrealistic alternative plan. Considering the domestic political conditions of the Bush administration, a letter containing a nonaggression pledge by the president that is endorsed by bipartisan leaders in the Congress could be a reasonable and realistic compromise. Such an arrangement also may not satisfy the Bush administration but it could be a way for the United States to focus on its war against terrorism, ease the anti-American sentiment that has recently flared up in South Korea, and promote US regional economic activity by bringing stability back to Northeast Asia and the Korean peninsula. Moreover, a non-aggression statement, while serving both nation's interests, will have more advantage for Washington as America will incur little loss if cheating occurs by Pyongyang. The US can easily make the statement a scrap of paper. However, in the case that the United States cheats on the agreement, North Korea will have much to lose if it has undertaken the irreversible and complete dismantling of its nuclear weapons program, a process that will be difficult to reverse. Therefore, the United States needs to understand that it has the great advantage in the deal whether there is compliance or infraction.
North Korea cannot lose any more opportunities. If the Bush administration shows an appropriate change in attitude, Pyongyang will have to take notice. From the perspective of practicality, North Korea will have to accept a de facto non-aggression agreement and has to cooperate in the resolution of the nuclear issue (or suspicions surrounding it) without relying so much on legalities. The DPRK should seize the chance it has to pursue the improvement of relations with the United States, whether through a "bold approach," or "new and bold approach" etc. In a process of building trust, the international community should persuade North Korea, in order that it does not lose any more opportunities, toward a practical and overall compromise and should continue to exert both tangible and intangible influence over the situation.
The missile defense that the Bush administration is pushing for will not only encourage more so-called "North Korean bad behavior" but could also increase the defense spending of China who possesses only small amount of strategic missiles(i.e., ICBMs). China's reform/opening policy and economic growth will be inevitably hampered. It will weaken the influence of China's political moderates whose political legitimacy has derived from growth and will cause the emergence of conservative and anti-American leaders which will threaten the US interests in the region. At the same time the new cold war system that could result in North East Asia from expanding the MD system to South Korea and Japan would only create an obstacle to peace. Furthermore, the MD could be detrimental to the US security interests-the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
We do not deny the fact that the US-Korea alliance has contributed significantly to the security and economic development of Korea. Korea's alliance with the United States is an important diplomatic asset. In addition, this alliance is also a useful asset for the US to realize its national interests in Northeast Asia. However, maintaining the alliance in the post-cold war era through cold war style military exercises and increases in defense budget could ultimately jeopardize peace on the Korean peninsula. We also realize that in the process of democratization, Korean civil society's perceptions of the United States are changing. The Bush administration's unilateral approach to issues concerning the Korean peninsula is transforming Korean civil society's objective perception of the United States into feelings of anti-Americanism. We aim for a partnership in maturity founded on new mutual respect and cooperative relations that is in accordance with the post-cold war era.
The plan to relocate the 2nd division of the USFK announced before the US-Korea summit in May 2003 was not an appropriate issue to raise as it was suggested without consideration of military confidence building and arms reduction on the Korean peninsula. We do not want to take the USFK hostage. We realize that the plan to relocate the USFK is part of the change in the US military strategy. Nevertheless, the redeployment and reduction of USFK should be carried out in the process of promoting peace on the Korean peninsula. Furthermore, while carrying out the redeployment and reduction of USFK in the favorable context of ROK-US cooperation we need to prepare a definite timeline for the return of full right of operational control to R.O.K in order to produce mature and effective ROK-US security cooperation.
In the post-cold war era, the Northeast Asian region has generally been incorporated into a market system and it is expected that the relationship among concerned parties will improve significantly if the North Korean nuclear issue is resolved. The possibility of establishing a multilateral security regime is increased. We understand that there are different ways of establishing a multilateral cooperative security regime, including building on a region-wide alliance system that helps mitigate potential conflicts on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere. Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) can be used as a benchmark to explore the possibility of a regional security regime.
The SOFA has become the source of anti-American sentiment prevalent in Korean civil society. Especially, the cover-up or timeserving measures pursued by the USFK in its attempt to resolve US military-related crimes and environmental pollution have become the leading cause of the deterioration of ROK-US relations. This is why a revision and legal and institutional reforms in the management of the SOFA are needed. The US and Korea must build effective communication and a consensus in which citizens of both nations can understand issues concerning jurisdiction. The revision of the SOFA must be approached from the standpoint of human rights and environmental protection, not from a battle over jurisdiction.
The National Council for Peace on the Korean Peninsula is an organization composed of politicians from various parties, professors, artists, and people from civilian organizations that seeks to peacefully resolve the current threats building on the Korean peninsula and furthermore the establishment of permanent peace in Korea.
National Council seeks for a common standard, principle, and ideal methods to reduce military tension on the Korean peninsula over the US-North Korea nuclear conflict through bipartisan cooperation and the collecting ideas from civilian organizations and specialists.
Members of National Council are from 75 civilian organization leaders from People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Federation for Environmental Movement, Women Making Peace, and from 39 congressmen from the Millenium Democratic Party, the Grand National Party, and People's Party for Reform.
The National Council sent its delegation to the US for meeting with the US congressmen, civil society leaders, religious leaders and peace activists to raise peaceful resolution between North Korea and the US on Korean nuclear issue with help of American Friends Service Committee from May 31 to June 10, 2003.