From Smirking Chimp
Donald Trump threatened to "totally destroy North Korea" in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 19. That threat violates the UN Charter, and indicates an intent to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, the war crime of collective punishment and international humanitarian law. Moreover, a first-strike use of nuclear weapons would violate international law.
By threatening to attack North Korea, Trump is endangering the lives of countless people. In the past, he has indicated his willingness to use nuclear weapons and Kim Jong-un has threatened to retaliate. The rapidly escalating rhetoric and provocative maneuvers on both sides has taken us to the brink of war.
Trump's threat prompted North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho to state, "Given the fact that this [threat] came from someone who holds the seat of the US presidency, this is clearly a declaration of war."
Ri added, "Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make counter-measures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country."
Such a move by North Korea would violate international law. But that does not justify US law-breaking. Two wrongs do not make a right. Moreover, the use of military force by either country would prove disastrous.
The UN Charter Requires Peaceful Dispute Resolution
After two world wars claimed millions of lives, the UN Charter was adopted in 1945 "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."
The Charter mandates the peaceful resolution of international disputes and forbids the use of force except in self-defense or with Security Council authorization.
Article 2 requires that UN members "settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered." Peaceful means are spelled out in Article 33: Parties to a dispute likely to endanger international peace and security must "first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice."
In 1953, after one-third of North Korea's population was decimated, the United States and North Korea signed an armistice agreement. But the US never allowed a peace treaty to be adopted. North Korea has repeatedly advocated the signing of a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War. To this day, 30,000 US troops continue to occupy South Korea.
The US has also refused to pursue the "freeze-for-freeze" strategy suggested by China and Russia. Under this plan, North Korea would freeze its nuclear and missile testing, and the US and South Korea would end their annual, provocative joint military exercises. Vassily Nebenzya, Russia's ambassador to the UN, said this path would offer "a way out" of the current situation.
Instead, the US has engineered punitive sanctions against North Korea, which have only strengthened the latter's resolve to develop usable nuclear weapons. Since 1953, North Koreans have lived in fear of annihilation by the United States.
In his speech to the General Assembly, on top of his threats toward North Korea, Trump also issued a veiled threat to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. That sends a dangerous message to North Korea that the US cannot be trusted to abide by its agreements.
The UN Charter Prohibits Threats and Preemptive Use of Force