Getting Serious About a No-Nuke Korea

While in Beijing two weeks ago, Condi told her media sycophants that she and President Bush "have no intention to invade or attack North Korea." Furthermore, "we look forward to making progress in the six-party talks because we must all be dedicated to a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula."

Condi certainly knows the truth about Bush’s intentions toward North Korea – as she did about Bush’s intentions toward Iraq – and you are supposed to believe she is telling you the truth about them now, even though she most certainly did not tell you the truth about Bush’s intentions toward Iraq.

But upon arriving in South Korea earlier this year for her first visit as secretary of state, Condi Rice didn’t immediately pay her diplomatic respects to the South Korean president. No, she went straight to our Command Post Tango, the underground bunker from which air-naval-ground combined operations would be controlled in the event of a “contingent” war with North Korea.

She was there to "observe" the biannual exercise of that "contingency" plan.

That contingency plan has for many years included preemptive attacks against North Korea’s nuclear facilities, some of which are presumed to be deep underground.

However, earlier this year, South Korea rebuffed Bush’s “contingency plan” for taking military action against North Korea in the event of “serious internal turmoil.”

Bush and his command authorities could assume wartime command of both American and South Korean forces in the event Bush decided that “internal troubles” in North Korea required military action.

Here the Koreans and the Chinese were attempting to realize a "non-nuclear Korean peninsula," while Bush and the neo-crazies were planning to attack North Korea to effect regime change?

Then there’s the matter of Condi’s dedication to a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula.

On the basis of her public remarks, Condi appears to equate a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula with a transparent, verifiable permanent cessation of all North Korea’s nuclear programs.

Where has this woman been?

On Sept. 27, 1991, President Bush, leader of the UN coalition that had just ejected the Iraqi invaders from Kuwait, announced (a) an immediate "stand down" of all strategic bombers currently on day-to-day alert and of all ICBMs scheduled for deactivation under START, (b) a halt in development of the rail garrison and mobile ICBM program, and (c) a cancellation of the short-range attack missile (SRAM-II) program.

Eight days later, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union would follow suit.

Bush also announced that the United States would unilaterally withdraw all land-based tactical nuclear weapons from overseas bases and all of its sea-based tactical nuclear weapons from U.S. ships and submarines.

Approximately 100 U.S. nuclear weapons had been based in South Korea and many more were aboard U.S. ships and submarines making port there.

On Dec. 31, 1991 – as a direct result of President Bush’s decision to withdraw U.S. nukes from South Korea and from warships offshore – President Roh Tae Woo and Premier Kim Il Sung signed the South-North Join Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Under the declaration, both countries agreed not to "test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy, or use nuclear weapons" or even to "possess nuclear-reprocessing and uranium-enrichment facilities."

At that time, neither North nor South had nukes, so if we actually did what Bush the Elder said we were going to do, then from 1992 to 2002 the Korean Peninsula was nuke-free.

But in the following years, we have maintained our land-sea-air bases in South Korea and have continued to conduct the twice-yearly exercise of our Korean "contingency plan."

In 1994, in part because of those twice-yearly exercises, the North Koreans threatened to withdraw from the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. As a result, under considerable congressional pressure, Clinton ordered the development of a plan to take out all North Korean nuclear facilities, using cruise missiles, presumably carrying nuke warheads, presumably launched from U.S. warships.

Clinton may – or may not – have actually redeployed U.S. nukes to the Korean peninsula or to U.S. warships offshore. But whether he did or not, it was obvious to the Koreans that U.S. nukes could be deployed to the peninsula in a matter of days or even hours after a decision to do so was made.

So, Condi, here’s the bottom line: If the six-party talks are to result in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. must be a party to the agreement and must pledge to never again deploy U.S. nukes to the Korean Peninsula or to the waters offshore.

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.