Tuesday, 24 March 2009

North Korea Adamant on Missile Launch

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Newspaper reports North Korea missile fired in Seoul, South Korea. AP ImagesOn March 24, the North Korean government warned the UN, the United States, and Japan against issuing sanctions in retaliation for its planned launch of a communications satellite between April 4 and 8. The communist nation's foreign ministry issued a statement published by the Korean Central News Agency that said the imposition of UN sanctions would violate a September 2005 six-nation agreement on mutual respect.

The statement, quoted by BBC news, asserted: "If such a hostile activity is carried out under the name of the UN Security Council, that would be a breach by the UN Security Council itself." It also said that if the deal were "abrogated," there would be "no ground for the six-party talks to exist any more."

The six-party talks include China, both Koreas, the United States, Japan, and Russia. Their purpose is to negotiate aid to the Pyongyang government in return for North Korea's ending of its controversial nuclear activities. Negotiations between Pyongyang and the other five nations have been deadlocked for months because of a dispute with the United States over how to verify the extent of North Korea's past nuclear activities.

North Korea and Western allies have bartered back and forth during the past year concerning which concessions are necessary for the communist state to be declassified as a terrorist state and to become eligible for U.S. aid and trade. Last September 24, the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna reported that the Pyongyang regime had barred United Nations inspectors from its Yongbyon plutonium plant, and on October 9 the communists made the remainder of the nuclear complex off limits to inspectors. However, on October 12, the day after the United States announced that it was removing North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, the North Koreans announced that they would resume disabling the Yongbyon plutonium processing plant at its compound and allow international monitors back to the site. The U.S. government had promised that it would take North Korea off the terrorist list, once a system to verify North Korean compliance had been agreed to, which would allow for expanded trade and economic benefits to the communists.

South Korea, Japan, and the United States have all said they want to level sanctions against North Korea in response to the launch and say there is no difference between a satellite launch and a test launch of North Korea's Taepodong-2 missile. North Korea's last launch of the missile in 2006 lasted less than a minute before blowing apart.

An unidentified North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman claimed on North Korea's state media that disputing allegations leveled by the nation's neighbors that the satellite launch is, in effect, a test of its longest-range missile are baseless, reported Reuters news. Such a launch would be in violation of U.N. sanctions forbidding the communist state from firing ballistic missiles. The spokesman said:  "It is perversity to say satellite launch technology cannot be distinguished from a long-range missile technology and so must be dealt with by the U.N. Security Council, which is like saying a kitchen knife is no different from a bayonet."

Japan may deploy destroyers armed with missiles capable of intercepting the North Korean missile, and the United States already has ships with similar capability in the area. However, North Korea has said it would consider a shoot-down of its rocket to be an act of war.

Against the backdrop of tensions increased by North Korea's plans for the April missile launch, soldiers from the communist state took two U.S. journalists into custody on March 17 as they filmed along the frozen Tumen River, which separates China from North Korea. South Korean television channel YTV, quoting an official in Seoul, said guards from the North crossed the border into Chinese territory to arrest the two journalists, identified as Laura Ling and Euna Lee.

According to a March 24 Reuters news report, the South Korean JoongAng Ilbo newspaper quoted an intelligence source as saying: "We understand the two female reporters are staying at a guest house in the suburb of Pyongyang overseen by the Security Command (the North's intelligence agency) and are being interrogated."

Contradicting earlier reports, the newspaper stated that the journalists may have crossed to the North Korean side of the frozen river prompting their arrest.

Reuters noted that the arrest of the journalists has raised alarm in Washington, because back in 1996 it took three months to secure the release of an American arrested by North Korean guards after he crossed the Yalu River that also separates North Korea from China.

The Yalu River may sound familiar because it calls to mind a major thorn in the side of American military men intent on winning the Korean War and the arbitrary restrictions placed on our military by U.S. politicians, from President Truman on down. When the North Korean communists invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, General Douglas MacArthur, who was unquestionably among the greatest commanders in American military history, was recalled to active duty as commander of United Nations forces. He directed the brilliant Inchon landing in September 1950 and captured the North Korean capital of Pyongyang the following month, an apparent defeat of the North Koreans. But the appeasers and traitors in Washington denied MacArthur the victory he was capable of delivering and refused to let him bomb the Yalu River bridges over which later poured more than 800,000 communist Chinese troops. Chinese communist leaders admitted later that they knew before the invasion that MacArthur would be restrained from cutting the communist supply and communications lines.

As General MacArthur recalled in his book, Reminiscences:

The original courageous decision of Harry Truman to boldly meet and defeat Communism in Asia was apparently being chipped away by the constant pounding whispers of timidity and cynicism. The President seemed to be swayed by the blandishments of some of the more selfish politicians of the United Nations. He seemed to be in the anomalous position of openly expressing fears of over-calculated risks that he had fearlessly taken only a few months before.

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This put me as field commander in an especially difficult situation. Up to now I had been engaged in warfare as it had been conducted through the ages — to fight to win. But I could see now that the Korean War was developing into something quite different. There seemed to be a deliberate underestimating of the importance of the conflict to which the government had committed — and was expending — the lives of United States fighting men.

I was even more worried by a series of directives from Washington which were greatly decreasing the potential of my air force. First I was forbidden "hot" pursuit of enemy planes that attacked our own. Manchuria and Siberia were sanctuaries of inviolate protection for all enemy forces and for all enemy purposes, no matter what depredations or assaults might come from there. Then I was denied the right to bomb the hydroelectric plants along the Yalu.

For MacArthur's efforts to defeat the Chinese and North Korean communists in Korea, President Truman fired him for alleged insubordination in April 1951.

Had MacArthur been allowed to carry out the same policies that had achieved victory in World War II, total victory would have been won in Korea and the war in Vietnam would very likely never have occurred.

And today, there would be no communist regime ensconced in Pyongyang to threaten its neighbors with missile launches or with nuclear enrichment programs, and the two American journalists would likely be back in California instead of a North Korean detention facility.