As DPRK disables its nuclear reactor
Will Washington live up to its agreement?
Published Jul 3, 2008 9:06 PM
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea took a dramatic step on June 27
to prove conclusively to the world that it was disabling its technology for
making nuclear weapons. As representatives of the international media recorded
the event, it blew up the cooling tower at its Yongbyon reactor. The reactor
had been shut down and sealed since July 15 of last year.
This now puts the ball in the U.S. court. Washington can no longer claim that
the DPRK is secretly producing nuclear material. Such claims in the past have
been used to delay implementing an agreement arrived at last year in six-party
talks held in Beijing.
Under the agreement, the U.S. is supposed to lift sanctions it had unilaterally
imposed on the socialist north of Korea and help provide the country with fuel
oil. The sanctions were imposed after George W. Bush placed the DPRK within his
imagined “axis of evil,” along with Iran and Iraq, and declared it
a “terrorist” nation.
The Bush administration has never called Israel, Pakistan or India
“terrorist” for developing nuclear weapons. Nor have any leaders of
U.S. imperialism ever applied the label to themselves, even though the U.S. is
the only country to have ever dropped atomic bombs on civilians, killing
hundreds of thousands of Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 with just
The corporate mass media in the U.S., following the lead of the foreign policy
establishment, have treated the DPRK’s decision to construct a nuclear
shield, even a small one, as irrational and “paranoid.” They seldom
bring up the fact that the DPRK is under constant threat from the Pentagon.
According to an assessment entitled “U.S. nuclear forces, 2008” in
the March/April Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the Pentagon last year
“restarted small-scale production of nuclear weapons for the first time
in 15 years,” even though it still had in its stockpiles more than 5,400
nuclear warheads left over from the Cold War.
The majority of these weapons are strategic—that is, they are for
offensive purposes and can be delivered to targets around the world by
missiles, submarines and long-range bombers.
The Pentagon’s operational plans, explained the article, include
“executable, scenario-based strike operations against regional states,
including North Korea and Iran.” In other words, the DPRK was and
continues to be an explicit target of the world’s most powerful military,
which today is carrying out brutal, aggressive wars of occupation in several
The U.S. Navy has been moving nuclear-powered, ballistic missile submarines
(SSBNs) into the Pacific.
“Since 2002,” says the Bulletin article, “the Navy has
transferred five SSBNs from the Atlantic to the Pacific in a reorientation of
the sea-based deterrent force’s focus to increase coverage of targets in
China, according to Navy officials. (The SSBNs also target Russia and North
“More than 60 percent of all U.S. SSBN deterrent patrols now take place
in the Pacific, compared to an average of only 15 percent during the
Yet Washington had the gall to impose heavy economic sanctions on the DPRK
when, after years of U.S. threats, it announced it had developed nuclear
weapons. According to a declaration it filed with the head of the six-party
talks, the DPRK, before dismantling its reactor, had produced about 90 pounds
of plutonium, which is “enough to construct at least a half-dozen nuclear
bombs and is in line with U.S. intelligence estimates.” (AP, June 27) Six
bombs—when the U.S. has 5,400!
After the DPRK’s decisive dismantling of its Yongyon reactor, Bush
announced he was removing the country from his “terrorist” list and
dropping some of the sanctions. That brought a barrage from John Bolton, an
unabashed warmonger who until recently was Bush’s ambassador to the
United Nations. He called the action “shameful,” declaring,
“This represents the final collapse of Bush’s foreign
policy.” The rightwinger Bush, trying to placate the even more rabid
right, stressed that his action was largely “symbolic” and would
have little impact, since many other sanctions have long been in place against
Congress has mandated that the White House wait 45 days before living up to its
end of the agreement by removing the DPRK from Bush’s
“terrorist” list. In that period, progressives must be vigilant
against new excuses and provocations from Washington.
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