Monday, July 31, 2006

Korean Missle Crisis: New Materials

I haven't really covered much to date on the missle crisis, mostly because what is available in the mainstream media is easily accessible. However, today I glanced at the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy english site and noticed there were a bunch of statements. I'll link them here because we haven't much about the reaction from Northeast Asian civil society and social movement groups on the crisis in the media. I've attached two statements: one from a NE coalition and one from a coalition of Korean NGOs.

The PSPD site also has some older posts on Pyeontaek base expansion that are worth a read.

This statement was initiated by the Northeast Asian network of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC-NEA):

Joint Statement*

Northeast Asian Citizens’ Call for a Peaceful Solution to the Missile Crisis

Click "view full post" to read the entire text.

We, citizens working for peace in Northeast Asia, express our deep concern over the recent missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Though the DPRK claims the tests to be an “exercise of its legitimate right as a sovereign state,” they can only increase military tension on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, and will provoke a regional arms race. The tests run counter to the commitment to “joint efforts for lasting peace and stability in Northeast Asia” declared in the Joint Statement of the Fourth Round of Six-Party Talks in September 2005.

We recognize that US policy regarding the DPRK, including maintained military pressure and a refusal to engage in bilateral talks, contributed to the DPRK’s act of brinkmanship. Pressure or sanctions will not bring about a solution to the nuclear and missile crisis. Only dialogue in good faith can bring a peaceful solution to the current crisis.

We call on the governments and peoples in the region as follows:

1. We call upon DPRK to refrain from any further missile launch and make efforts to hold dialogue in good faith with the governments concerned, including at the upcoming North-South Ministerial Talks.

2. We urge the region’s governments to pursue negotiations on the basis of the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. The US should hold immediate bilateral talks with the DPRK. Japan should continue its talks based on the 2002 Pyongyang Declaration, avoiding mention of possible preemptive strikes or other military responses. The UN Security Council must not focus on punitive measures, but rather on promoting the governmental dialogue and consultation.

3. We call on the governments to bear in mind the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, exercise restraint, and avoid any action that may further intensify and complicate the situation. We call on all governments concerned not to strengthen the military power on the pretext of the missile launch. Developing and deploying missile defense systems are counterproductive as they can accelerate arms race and increase missile tension in the region.

4. We reiterate our belief that people-to-people mutual support is vital to build peace in the region. Humanitarian support to the DPRK should be continued. We oppose any sanctions that would threaten the lives of the DPRK’s people. We urge the media to refrain from any exaggerated reports on the North Korean threat that promote hostile sentiment among peoples, and encourage it to focus on peoples’ initiatives to end this crisis.

5. We urge the governments of Northeast Asia to take serious steps to develop an inclusive, sub-regional mechanism for consultations on issues of common security concern

July 11, 2006

Signatories** (As of July 11, 2006)

AU Pak Kuen (Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, Hong Kong)
CHEN Huaifan (Chinese People's Association for Peace and Disarmament, Beijing)
Ya Han CHUANG (Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan, Taipei)
ENKHSAIKHAN Jargalsaikhan (Blue Banner, Mongolia)
Vadim GAPONENKO (Maritime State University, Vladivostok)
JUNG Gyung Lan (Director, Center for Peaceful Future of Korea, Women Making Peace, Seoul)
KAWASAKI Akira (Peace Boat, Tokyo)
KIM Jeong Soo (Representative, Women Making Peace, Seoul)
Anselmo LEE (Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Bangkok)
LEE Mihwa (Secretary General, Nonviolent Peaceforce Corea, Seoul)
Kathy MATSUI (Global Citizenship Dept., Seisen University, Tokyo)
Gus MICLAT (Initiatives for International Dialogue, Manila)
PARK Joon S. (Co-chairperson, Nonviolent Peaceforce Corea, Seoul)
PARK Sun Song (People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Seoul)
PARK Sung Yong (Co-chairperson, Nonviolent Peaceforce Corea, Seoul)
SASAMOTO Jun (Japanese lawyers International Solidarity Association (JALISA), Tokyo)
Philip YANG (Taiwan Security Research Center, National Taiwan University, Taipei)
YOSHIOKA Tatsuya (Director, Peace Boat / Northeast Asian Regional Initiator, Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, Tokyo)

* This statement was initiated by the Northeast Asian network of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC-NEA) and made open to signatures by all.
** Affiliation in bracket is for identification purpose only.

Statement from Korean NGOs on North Korea's Missle Launch

North Korea pushed forward with their missile launch last week. Other nations such as South Korea, the U.S., and Japan reacted by taking a hard-line approach. As a result, these actions immediately complicated the security situation on the Korean Peninsula.

We express regret that despite concerns from South Korea and the international community, North Korea proceeded with missile tests. It is not yet clear whether the missile firing was utilized as a North Korean 'diplomatic strategy' to press the U.S. into direct negotiations, or used as a 'military deterrent' in response to military threats from the U.S. Whatever North Korea’s intentions, missile launches were an unwise action which raised the security stakes on the Korean Peninsula while also increasing leverage of hawks in Washington and Tokyo.

We are also deeply worried with the adoption of a hard-line response, both domestically and internationally, towards North Korea. President Bush ceased negotiations regarding North Korea's missiles as soon as he took office. Moreover, the Bush Administration has ignored North Korea and maintained a strategy based on military threats against the North. Therefore, the U.S. government cannot avoid blame for this recent unfortunate event. The Japanese government should also be blamed for keeping its long-time hard-line approach toward North Korea since the Pyeongyang Declaration in September 2002. Lastly, the South Korean government has not promoted military trust-building, nor done enough to create a more favorable atmosphere between the two Koreas. South Korea accepted the U.S. military’s 'Strategic Flexibility', conceded to U.S. hegemony by partially attending 'Proliferation Security Initiative', and dramatically built up its military forces.

We also find it problematic that domestic politics and the media define the North Korean missile launches as a failure of South Korea's 'engagement policy' and initiate a hard-line approach toward the North. The current North Korean missile launch crisis is the result of the U.S. government's hard-line policy and North Korea's improper response to it.

Given these circumstances, we call on other nations to solve today's crisis in a wise manner, and work towards creating a peaceful atmosphere. Below, we list our following demands:

First, North Korea should immediately give up its belligerent rhetoric. Stating "more tests are on the way" only provokes the crisis, and creates an unfavorable atmosphere for negotiations. Moreover, it should show its willingness to cover comprehensive issues on the Korean Peninsula including the missile issue at the upcoming inter-Korean ministerial talks scheduled for July 11.

Second, it has already been proven that the U.S. policy based on sanctions and pressure is unable to resolve North Korean nuclear and missile problems. Therefore, the U.S. government should return to the negotiating table with North Korea and show respect for North Korea's own sovereignty. We are opposed to sanctions against North Korea, whether unilaterally from the U.S., or through a UN resolution, which will only deteriorate the current crisis. Moreover, we urge the U.S. to actively participate in any form of talks with North Korea.

Third, the Japanese government should reverse its tough stance against North Korea. For example, it should reverse its decision to block the entry of the North Korean cargo vessel ManKyungBong and its sponsorship of U.N. sanctions against the North. In addition, Japan should actively take part in talks with North Korea to resolve the Japanese kidnapping issue, and resume normal DPRK-Japan diplomatic relations. As Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had suggested prior to the nuclear crisis, the Japanese government should offer to play the role of mediator between the U.S. and North Korea to foster trust and the improvement of relations.

Fourth, the South Korean government should retract its decision to suspend humanitarian assistance to the North, including rice and fertilizer shipments, and should keep economic assistance and cooperation intact. Any intention to induce changes in North Korean policy through sanctions and coercion are in violation of the basic principles of an ‘engagement policy’, and reduces the opportunities for South Korea’s involvement, thereby adversely affecting inter-Korea relations. The South Korean government should see the firing of missiles as an opportunity to take more of a lead role in resolving North Korean issues.

Fifth, the international community, including the six-party talk participants, should incorporate six-party talks with parallel bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea. The U.S. held bilateral talks with all other 6 party members except North Korea. The United States’ refusal to hold direct talks with the North raises suspicion whether the U.S. really has any intention in solving problems with North Korea. In order to resume the six-party talks and achieve success, we believe the U.S. and North Korea must exchange their concerns and break their state of distrust through direct talks.

Finally, we like to make an earnest request to our people, media, and politicians. It is certain that the North Korean missile launches have a negative impact on South Korea’s economy and security. However, this is not a consequence of South Korea’s 'engagement policy', but a result of North Korea’s improper reaction towards a U.S.-backed hard-line policy. In that sense, South Korean politicians and media should not take a tougher policy approach towards the North

We reiterate our concerns over the North Korean missile launches and urge other nations, including South Korea, to turn the possible ‘crisis’ caused by the missile tests into an ‘opportunity’.

2006. 7. 10

Korea Youth Corps, Green Korea United, People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Civil Network for a Peaceful Korea, Korea Women's Associations United, Women Making Peace, National Council of YMCAs of KOREA, Korean Federation for Environmental Movement

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