DPR Korea: Crisis, What Crisis?

The Press gets hold of the more colourful exchanges between the two sides. However, underlying the crisis is a desire for cooperation from both sides and a return to sanity.

1994. An agreement is signed between Washington and Pyongyang, under which the USA agrees to supply fuel to the Democratic people’s Republic of Korea in return for a cessation of its nuclear programme.

Then came George Bush’s “axis of evil” speech, naming Pyongyang along with Iran and Iraq as part of an axis of evil which required special attention and last December, Washington unilaterally suspended supplies of diesel fuel to the DPR Korea, alleging that violations of its commitment to not proceed with the nuclear programme had been committed by Pyongyang.

The leadership of the DPR Korea replied that the insinuation that the nuclear arms programme had been started was “a fabrication by the United States of America with sinister motives”, expelled two International atomic Energy Agency inspectors and broke the seals on a nuclear power plant near Pyongyang. Last Friday, amid growing threats by the USA, the DPR Korea decided to withdraw from the non-proliferation treaty on nuclear weapons.

Despite the threat by Pyongyang to “transform the fortress of the imperialists into a sea of fire” the diplomatic efforts are proceeding behind the scenes, with Moscow exhorting all sides to use diplomacy and not threats and Washington stepping up a diplomatic offensive involving South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and China, trying to bring regional pressure to bear on the DPR Korea.

Meanwhile, Han Song Ryol, the DPR Korean ambassador to the United Nations Organisation has confirmed to the former US ambassador to the UNO, Bill Richardson, that his country has no intention and no programme to implement the pursuit of a nuclear weapons programme.

The “sea of fire” speech had been made before, in 1994, a threat aimed at Seoul by Pyongyang, because the talks over fuel supply were blocked. With all the behind-the-scenes diplomatic activity, it seems unlikely that the Korean Peninsula is about to descend into Armageddon. More likely, is a renewed discussion of the fuel supply treaty, more favourable to Pyongyang.


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