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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/9/17

Why Trump Won't Start a War With North Korea

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"Under the terms of the 1994 framework, North Korea agreed to freeze and ultimately dismantle its nuclear programme in exchange for 'the full normalisation of political and economic relations with the United States.' This meant four things:

"By 2003, a US-led consortium would build two light-water nuclear reactors in North Korea to compensate for the loss of nuclear power.

"Until then, the US would supply the north with 500,000 tons per year of heavy fuel.

"The US would lift sanctions, remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, and -- perhaps most importantly -- normalise the political relationship, which is still subject to the terms of the 1953 Korean War armistice.

"Finally, both sides would provide 'formal assurances' against the threat or use of nuclear weapons." ("Why America's 1994 deal with North Korea failed -- and what Trump can learn from it," The Independent)

It was a totally straightforward agreement that met the requirements of both parties. The North got a few economic perks along with the security assurances they desperately wanted and, in return, the US got to monitor any and all nuclear sites, thus, preventing the development of weapons of mass destruction. Everyone got exactly what they wanted, right? There was only one glitch: The US started foot-dragging from Day 1. The lightwater reactors never got beyond the foundation stage and the heavy fuel deliveries got more and more infrequent. In contrast, the North Koreans stuck religiously to the letter of the agreement. They did everything that was expected of them and more. In fact, according to the same article, four years after the agreement went into effect:

"...both the US and the international atomic energy agency were satisfied that there had been 'no fundamental violation of any aspect of the framework agreement' by North Korea. But on its own pledges, Washington failed to follow through." (Independent)

There you have it: The North kept its word, but the US didn't. It's that simple.

This is an important point given the fact that the media typically mischaracterizes what actually took place and who should be held responsible. The onus does not fall on Pyongyang, it falls on Washington. Here's more from the same article:

"On its own pledges, Washington failed to follow through. The light-water reactors were never built. 'Heavy fuel shipments were often delayed.' North Korea was not removed from the state department's list of state sponsors of terrorism until 2008, though it had long met the criteria for removal...Most importantly, no action was taken to formally end the Korean War -- which was never technically ended -- by replacing the 1953 ceasefire with a peace treaty. The 'formal assurances' that the US would not attack North Korea were not provided until six years after the framework was signed." (Independent)

When Bush was elected in 2000, things got much worse. The North was included in Bush's Axis of Evil speech, it was also listed as a "rogue regime against which the US should be prepared to use force," and the Pentagon stepped up its joint-military drills in the South which just added more gas to the fire. Eventually, Bush abandoned the agreement altogether and the North went back to building nukes.

Then came Obama who wasn't much better than Bush, except for the public relations, of course. As Tim Shorrock points out in his excellent article at The Nation, Obama sabotaged the Six-Party Talks, suspended energy assistance to pressure the North to accept harsher "verification plans," "abandoned the idea of direct talks" with Pyongyang, and "embarked on a series of military exercises with South Korea that increased in size and tempo over the course of his administration and are now at the heart of the tension with Kim Jong-un."

So although Obama was able to conceal his cruelty and aggression behind the image of "peacemaker," relations with the North continued to deteriorate and the situation got progressively worse.

Check out these brief excerpts from Shorrock's article which help to provide a thumbnail sketch of what really happened and who is responsible:

"The Agreed Framework led North Korea to halt its plutonium-based nuclear-weapons program for over a decade, foregoing enough enrichment to make over 100 nuclear bombs. 'What people don't know is that North Korea made no fissile material whatsoever from 1991 to 2003.'

"...the framework remained in effect well into the Bush administration. In 1998, the State Department's Rust Deming testified to Congress that 'there is no fundamental violation of any aspect of the framework agreement.'

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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.

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