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Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Nuclear Standoff with North Korea

How 9/11 Brought the World to the Brink of Nuclear War

Written by  Wayne H. Coste, PE

Once again, the repercussions of 9/11 are central to current events of the day.  The roots of the current nuclear standoff between the United States and North Korea can be found in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 – and like the events of 9/11, this background has been obliterated not only in the mainstream media, but also in the alternative media.  Compared to the paltry media discussion regarding the roots of the nuclear stand-off with North Korea, the evidence for controlled demolition of the Twin Towers and Building 7 would  be considered headline news.

During a recent trip to Washington in mid -August, I led a small group of constituents to visit the offices of our Members of Congress in both the House and Senate.  In total, our group visited with staff members of five Congressional offices.  When asked, none of these staff members were able to provide any background to the following highly relevant lead-in question about North Korea:

“With all the discussion about North Korea and its nuclear weapons program, can you tell me why North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003?”  

When asked, the expressions on the faces of these office staff members showed that the topic of the question was one that they had never encountered and for which they had no context to develop a reply.  

This was surprising because, with all of the discussion in the news about the threat from North Korea and all of the thousands of news segments and articles discussing the “irrationality” and “unpredictability” of the North Korean political and military leadership, one would have thought that a thread of understanding about North Korea’s compliance, or non-compliance, with the NPT should be present within earshot of House and Senate staff members.  When asked if they wanted to know the background, all were eager for a brief synopsis.

Like the evidence for controlled demolition of the Twin Towers, the mainstream media has been shown to be incapable of providing context for a very important event.

Brief Overview of Korea and the NPT

Summarized in her article entitled, “The Logic in North Korean ‘Madness,” (retired) Colonel Ann Wright reviews the nuclear tensions regarding the Korean peninsula.  Wright notes that on June 28, six former high-level experienced U.S. government officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations over the past 30 years sent a letter to President Trump stating:

“Kim Jong Un is not irrational and highly values preserving his regime. … Talking is not a reward or a concession to Pyongyang and should not be construed as signaling acceptance of a nuclear-armed North Korea. It is a necessary step to establishing communication to avoid a nuclear catastrophe. The key danger today is not that North Korea would launch a surprise nuclear attack. Instead the primary danger is a miscalculation or mistake that could lead to war.” (Signatories:  George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Bill Richardson, Retired U.S. Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Sigfrid S. Hecker, Robert L. Gallucci)

Colonel Wright summarized the events of the 1990’s regarding the Clinton administration’s achievements with North Korea.  They are:

“North Korea freezing its plutonium production for eight years (1994–2002) and, in October 2000, indirectly working out a deal to buy all of North Korea’s medium and long-range missiles — and signing an agreement with North Korean General Jo Myong-rok in a meeting in the White House stating that neither country would bear ‘hostile intent’ toward the other.”

But the Bush administration, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Undersecretary of State John Bolton, “actively sought to torpedo the Agreed Framework” and succeeded in pushing it aside and thereby destroying the 1994 freeze and refusing to acknowledge the Clinton-Jo pledge of “no hostile intent.”

george w bush axis of evil lg 80316

In President Bush’s January 2002 State of the Union speech, Bush linked North Korea to Iran and Iraq as an “axis of evil.”  The Bush administration then turned its back on North Korea, abrogating the “Agreed Framework” and permanently halting shipments of fuel-oil (one of the enticements to shutting down their electricity generating, plutonium producing, reactor). In response, the North Koreans announced their intention to withdraw from the NPT and restart their reactor.  Without any effort to prevent the North Korean’s from restarting their nuclear weapons program, North Korea followed through with their stated intentions.  Historian Bruce Cumings wrote,

“The simple fact is that: Pyongyang would have no nuclear weapons if Clinton’s agreements had been sustained.”

Given this background, if the goal of the United States policy was to reduce nuclear tensions, the actions of the Bush administration’s “Axis-of-Evil” policy and the Obama administration’s “Strategic Patience” policy were miserable failures.  William Perry, U.S. Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, noted that the lack of a U.S. negotiating strategy (emanating from the false story regarding the events of 9/11) has forced North Korea to do exactly what the U.S. and other major powers said they did not want them to do — develop and test nuclear weapons and missiles.

Disdain for History

Visiting Seoul in March, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asserted that North Korea has a history of violating one agreement after another as reported by the New York Times.  

“The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Mr. Tillerson said, …Negotiations “can only be achieved by denuclearizing, giving up their weapons of mass destruction,” he said — a step to which the North committed in 1992, and again in subsequent accords, but has always violated. “Only then will we be prepared to engage them in talks.”

Cumings recounts that last October, at a forum in Seoul with Strobe Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state for Bill Clinton, Talbott said that North Korea might well be the top security problem for the next president. In Cumings’ remarks, he recounted Robert McNamara’s explanation (from Errol Morris’s, The Fog of War) for the United States’ defeat in Vietnam: “We never put ourselves in the shoes of the enemy and attempted to see the world as they did.” Talbott then responded, “It’s a grotesque regime!”

Cumings pointed out the irony, noting that Talbott says North Korea is our number-one problem, but so grotesque that there’s no point trying to understand Pyongyang’s point of view – or even investigate to see if they might have some valid concerns.  Cumings lamented:

"North Korea is the only country in the world to have been systematically blackmailed by US nuclear weapons going back to the 1950s, when hundreds of nukes were installed in South Korea. I have written much about this in these pages and in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Why on earth would Pyongyang not seek a nuclear deterrent? But this crucial background doesn’t enter mainstream American discourse. History doesn’t matter, until it does—when it rears up and smacks you in the face."

Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

Article 6 of the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the quid-pro-quo whereby non-nuclear weapon states forswear the development and acquisition of nuclear weapons in exchange for a promise from those countries that do have nuclear weapons to agree to negotiate the elimination of their own nuclear weapons.

In 1994, faced with North Korea’s announced intent to withdraw from the nuclear NPT, the United States and North Korea negotiated and signed the Agreed Framework. Under this agreement, Pyongyang committed to freezing its illicit plutonium weapons program in exchange for aid – including a significant amount of fuel oil for replacing the energy no longer available from the nuclear reactor that they agreed to dismantle.

Following the abrogation of the terms of this agreement by the United States in 2002, North Korea withdrew from the NPT in January 2003 and once again began operating its nuclear facilities.  The second major diplomatic effort were the Six-Party Talks initiated in August of 2003 which involved China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. In 2005, North Korea pledged to abandon “all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs” and return to the NPT.  

In 2007 the parties agreed on a series of steps to implement that 2005 agreement.  However, those talks broke down in 2009 following disagreements over verification and an internationally condemned North Korea rocket launch. Pyongyang has since stated that it would never return to the talks and is no longer bound by their agreements. The other five parties state that they remain committed to the talks, and have called for Pyongyang to recommit to its 2005 denuclearization pledge.

Libya, Iraq, North Korea and Nuclear Deterrence

Sheldon Richman, executive editor of The Libertarian Institute and the former senior editor at the Cato Institute, agreed with William Perry that North Korean leader Kim Jung Un is not crazy. Richman wrote,

“Let us dispense, once and for all, with the idea that Kim is a madman. Brutality is not madness, and a madman wouldn’t be expected to capitulate to economic pressure. He shows every sign of wanting his regime to endure, which means he would not want the US military or nuclear arsenal to pulverize it. Assuming rationality in this context asserts only that Kim’s means are reasonably related to his ends.”

Richman underscored the rationale for the North Korean government to develop nuclear weapons against the will of the U.S.

“Kim shows every sign of having learned the lesson of recent US regime-change policies toward Iraq and Libya, neither of which were nuclear states. Same with Syria, whose regime has been targeted by the U.S. government. The lesson is: if you want to deter a U.S. attack, get yourself some nukes.”

Robert E. Kelly, Associate Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science at Pusan National University, wrote, “This is not a suicidal, ideological, ISIS-like state bent on apocalyptic war but rather a post-ideological gangter-ish dictatorship looking to survive. The best way to guarantee the North’s survival is nuclear deterrence. … It is a rational decision, given Pyongyang’s goals to, 1) not change internally, and 2) not be attacked externally. This is not ideal of course. Best would be a de-nuclearized North Korea. But this is highly unlikely at this point.”

Sue Mi Terry, a Korea expert who has worked at both the CIA and the National Security Council and now is with the Bower Group Asia spoke on June 28 to National Public Radio about meeting with North Korea officials to try to get nuclear talks back on track.  Terry said that to North Koreans, their nuclear arsenal,

“… is a matter of survival. North Koreans have told us even in the recent meeting – and they’ve specifically brought up Libya – Gaddafi’s case in Libya and Iraq – and said this is – nuclear weapons is the only way for us to absolutely guarantee our survival, and this is why we’re not going to give it up. We’re so close to perfecting this nuclear arsenal. This is our final deterrent against the United States. Ultimately it’s about regime survival for them, and nuclear weapons guarantees it.”

 Terry said the North Koreans demand that the United States accept them as a nuclear power and there is “absolutely no flexibility or willingness to meet to talk about ending their nuclear program.”

Speaking about the human rights issues associated with North Korea, William Perry observes,

“North Korean leadership may be ruthless and reckless, but they are not crazy.  Why do we have a double standard for North Korea? We accept Saudi Arabia as it is with its human rights violations, but we do not accept North Korea as it is – a nuclear power. Refusing to listen to the North Koreans about their goals and needs has meant that in the seventeen years since the last relevant dialogue, the North Koreans have developed and tested nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles.”

Next Steps

At this juncture, it is important for 9/11 Truth activists to tie the North Korean nuclear standoff to the Bush Administration’s abrogation of all the agreements that were negotiated by the Clinton Administration regarding the shutdown on North Korea’s plutonium producing reactor.   This is important because this simple message contains information that is nowhere in the media.  Then a quick linkage to the events of 9/11 and the subsequent labeling of North Korea, Iran and Iraq as part of the Axis-of-Evil leaves an opening to mention the problems with the official story of 9/11.



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