Aluminum Tubes – The Sequel

On February 26, 2008, the world-renowned New York Philharmonic orchestra, under the baton of Lorin Maazel, performed works by Wagner, Dvorak, Gershwin, Bizet and Bernstein in Pyongyang, capital city of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

On March 2, 2008, the United States and South Korea launched "Key Resolve" and "Foal Eagle," joint military exercises, which the official DPRK news organization – Rodong Sinmun – characterized as "extremely provocative and adventurous saber rattling aimed at creating new military tension on the Korean Peninsula and gravely threatening peace and the cause of reunification."

Korean reunification? Well, that would never do.

You see, last year President Bush announced he wanted to establish an "enduring relationship" with Iraq, similar to the one we have had with South Korea for more than fifty years.

Actually, Bush wants to establish an enduring relationship with Iraq more like the one the Japanese had with Korea.

Shortly after declaring war on Japan, as Stalin promised to do at Yalta, the Soviet Union entered and proceeded to "liberate" Korea, "annexed" by the Japanese in 1910.

Before withdrawing, in 1948, the Soviets established the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the North.

But, that same year, President Truman got the United Nations to recognize the US-established Republic of Korea to be the sole legal government of Korea.

Two years later, the DPRK regime attempted to supplant the ROK regime.

Whereupon, Truman got the Security Council to "recommend" that “Members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security in the area.”

When US-led armed forces not only repelled the armed attack on the South, but attempted to eliminate the DPRK regime in the North, “hordes” of “volunteers” from the People’s Republic of China – also not recognized by the UN – poured across the Yalu River.

A military stalemate eventually ensued and in 1953 an armistice was signed, making the 38th Parallel the dividing line between the still unrecognized DPRK and the ROK.

More than fifty-years later, tens of thousands of US troops are still garrisoned in South Korea, conducting exercises such as "Key Resolve" and "Foal Eagle," ostensibly to counter another attempt by those dirty Commies to supplant the ROK regime.

But, in 1994, in part because of those exercises, which may, under President Clinton, have envisioned the possible use of nukes, the North Koreans threatened to withdraw from the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to be free to develop nukes of their own.

There resulted the Clinton-negotiated Agreed Framework of 1994, under which North Korea agreed to not only remain a NPT-signatory, but to “freeze” its plutonium-producing reactors and related facilities and to “eventually dismantle these reactors and related facilities.”

What did the DPRK want in return?

“The US will provide formal assurances to the DPRK, against the threat or use of nuclear weapons by the U.S.”


“1) Within three months of the date of this Document, both sides will reduce barriers to trade and investment, including restrictions on telecommunications services and financial transactions.

“2) Each side will open a liaison office in the other’s capital following resolution of consular and other technical issues through expert level discussions.

“3) As progress is made on issues of concern to each side, the U.S. and the DPRK will upgrade bilateral relations to the Ambassadorial level.”

But Bush the Younger became President and almost immediately repudiated Clinton’s efforts to implement the Agreed Framework, telling South Korea’s president and North Korean emissaries he had no intentions of "normalizing" relations with North Korea.

Then in September 2002, months after we now know Bush the Younger had already decided to provoke a war with Iraq, Bush unilaterally abrogated the Agreed Framework, charging that North Korea had a secret enriched-uranium nuke program.

So, on the eve of Bush’s war of aggression against Iraq, DPRK withdrew from the NPT and restarted its weapons-grade plutonium-producing reactor.

Alarmed that Bush would launch another war of aggression, against their neighbor, which might once again involve them, the Chinese and Russians got Bush to participate in the so-called Six-Party (China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, North Korea and United States) talks, with the objective of a negotiated peace settlement for the Korean War.

The Fifth Round of the Six-Party talks concluded last year with all parties agreeing, inter alia, that

“The DPRK and the U.S. will start bilateral talks aimed at resolving bilateral issues and moving toward full diplomatic relations.”

But then, at the Asia-Pacific summit in Australia, later that year, Bush emerged from talks with then South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun to announce progress made in the talks on the issue of DPRK’s “nuclear program.”

Roh, who apparently does not understand English very well, said

“I think I did not hear President Bush mention the declaration to end the Korean War just now… If you could be a little bit clearer in your message, that would be very much appreciated.”

To which Bush replied:

“I can’t make it any more clear, Mr. President. We look forward to the day when we can end the Korean War. That will happen when Kim Jong-il verifiably gets rid of his weapons programs and his weapons.”

Well, perhaps fortunately for Bush, South Korea now has a new president, Lee Myung-bak, elected on a promise of "revitalizing the economy." President Lee has reportedly linked further economic cooperation with the DPRK with its "promise to declare all its nuclear programs to America’s satisfaction."

Last week, a spokesman for the DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs blamed the U.S. for the deadlocked US-DPRK bilateral talks.

After noting that the U.S. had charged DPRK with having a "suspected Uranium enrichment" program for producing nuclear weapons, way back in 2002 – said charge resulting in the DPRK withdrawing from the NPT, and eventually producing plutonium-based nuclear weapons on its own – the spokesman countered that

 "The U.S. has not fulfilled its commitments as regards the lifting of the sanctions within the agreed period but insisted on its unreasonable demands concerning the nuclear declaration, thus throwing hurdles in the way of settling the issue."

What "unreasonable demands"?
Well, we again told them that the issue of “suspected uranium enrichment” could only be solved if the DPRK told us the whereabouts of "the imported aluminum tubes."

The DPRK spokesman claimed last week that the DPRK not only took our experts to see those "sensitive military objects" but even provided us with samples of the tubes!

Then we raised the issue of “suspected [DPRK] nuclear cooperation with Syria.”

The spokesman concluded by noting

"The U.S. side is playing a poor trick to brand the DPRK as a criminal at any cost in order to save its face.

"The DPRK can never fall victim to the Bush administration’s move to justify its wrong [2002] assertion.

"Explicitly speaking, the DPRK has never enriched uranium nor rendered nuclear cooperation to any other country. It has never dreamed of such things.

"Such things will not happen in the future, too."

South Korean parliamentary elections are scheduled for April 9th.

Stay tuned.

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.