Washington Deepens Crisis on Korean Peninsula

Beijing Stalinists Could Betray an Ally

Emma Johnson

Washington’s unrelenting provocations and threats against North Korea are creating an increasingly dangerous and unpredictable situation on the Korean Peninsula.

With one after another round of crippling economic sanctions and its bellicose display of nuclear military capability, Washington is leaving the government of North Korea, which has stood up to U.S. imperialism for six decades, few options. And contrary to its pretensions, the Barack Obama administration has no control over the possible consequences of this course.

The U.S. and South Korean militaries are conducting large-scale military drills on the North Korean border from March 1 to April 30, involving as many as 200,000 South Korean soldiers and some 10,000 U.S. troops.

On March 18, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced to reporters at a press conference in Seoul that B-52 bombers would carry out their second simulated nuclear raid the following day as part of the drills.

Ten days later, U.S. military officials announced that two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers flew from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to a bombing range in South Korea, dropped inert munitions and returned to the U.S. in a single, continuous mission. This is the first time a training run by a stealth bomber over South Korea has been made public.

“The Korean Peninsula is now in a touch-and-go situation due to the nuclear provocation moves,” North Korea’s foreign ministry said March 26.

On March 31, the U.S. flew F-22 stealth fighter jets, ordinarily stationed in Japan, to South Korea to participate in the military drills. F-22s are low-flying planes, capable of evading radar and air-defense systems and can also be used to escort B-2 stealth bombers in a strike.

The following day, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, said that the USS McCain, a destroyer capable of shooting down ballistic missiles, was being positioned off South Korea. A second ship, the USS Decatur, was reported to be en route from the Philippines.

The current crisis is rooted in the 1945 division of the Korean nation, imposed by U.S. imperialism. Between 1950 and 1953 Washington carried out a bloody war under U.N. auspices in an attempt to overthrow the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Korea remains the only unresolved national division coming out of World War II. To this day Washington refuses to sign a peace treaty with North Korea and maintains some 28,000 U.S. troops in the South.

“Since early in the 1950s the U.S. has made ceaseless nuclear blackmail against the DPRK,” said a March 15 press release from North Korea’s permanent mission to the U.N., referring to nuclear threats during the Korean War by then President Harry Truman. After introducing tactical nuclear weapons into South Korea in 1957, Washington announced in 1991 that it had pulled them out, part of hypocritical calls to “denuclearize the peninsula” shortly after Pyongyang began its nuclear program.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military has long-range strategic nuclear missiles aimed at North Korea. In recent years, for example, Washington shifted the majority of its Trident submarines armed with hundreds of intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles to the Pacific, explicitly targeting North Korea and China.

“Strategic nuclear missiles in the U.S. mainland are aiming at the DPRK and submarines with nuclear warheads are swarming the waters off South Korea and its vicinity in the Pacific region,” the March 26 North Korean statement pointed out.

Last month, Pyongyang cut off all military communication lines with South Korea and declared the cease-fire from 1953 void.

On April 1, the North Korean government said it would strengthen its nuclear weapons capacity in light of U.S. provocations, but would work to further nuclear non-proliferation if there were an “improvement of relations with hostile nuclear weapons states.” North Korean officials said the government would restart its uranium enrichment plant in Yongboun, which was shut down under a nuclear disarmament deal with Washington in 2007. Two days later, Pyongyang blocked 480 workers and trucks coming from South Korea from entering Kaesong industrial park in the North, where more than 120 South Korean companies employ 53,000 North Korean workers. Kaesong is the one joint venture between North and South Korea.

According to the April 2 International Business Times, Chinese military forces have been placed on high alert and the Chinese navy has conducted a live-fire naval drill in the Yellow Sea, close to the Korean Peninsula. Beijing was a co-author with Washington of the latest round of sanctions imposed on North Korea March 7. At the same time, a long-standing defense treaty between Pyongyang and Beijing obligates China to help North Korea in the event of war.

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