Irish Anti-war Movement Statement, 09 September 2017


The Irish Anti-War Movement is deeply concerned about the extremely dangerous current impasse between the US administration and North Korea, and the increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula. These tensions are exacerbated by equally aggressive and irresponsible verbal threats of nuclear destruction coming from Trump and Kim Jong Un.

Kim Jong Un is continuing missile launches and nuclear tests despite universal opposition. No one wants a nuclearised Korean peninsula, but there is no agreement on how to stop what could end up in the worst case scenario as a nuclear first strike, deliberate or accidental, by the US or North Korea, which could kill and maim millions of people and create a massive refugee crisis.

North Korea says it is open to dialogue with the U.S. if Washington ends its “hostile” policies, including military exercises with South Korea and sanctions. The U.S. sees these demands as nonstarters as long as the North continues to conduct nuclear and missile tests. Dialogue is being blocked by preconditions on each side.

The US is pushing for even more harsh trade sanctions on N Korea ‘and those who trade with North Korea,’ which would include China. Besides preconditions, another thing preventing talks is the imperialistic arrogance of Trump and Nikki Haley; the latter stated that the US was 'insulted' by the idea of treating the North Koreans as equals. The Trump administration is also clearly stuck on the idea that superior military force can coerce victory, even though since Vietnam that has been proven to be false in country after country and war after war.

They claim that Kim Jong Un is insane and that they do not know what he wants. However, it is perfectly clear what he wants. He does not want to feel threatened by the US alliance and weapons and soldiers supplied to South Korea. He wants a nuclear deterrent for his country, so that his regime is not toppled and he does not end up murdered like Saddam Hussein or Gaddafi, who gave up nuclear weapons. He wants a peace treaty finally ending the Korean War. He wants respect for himself and his country, and to be treated as an equal on the world stage. He wants the sanctions lifted. He wants Trump to meet with him as an equal.

Both the US and North Korea are pursuing a mistaken course; that of bravado, reckless talk, and trying to force ‘the enemy’ to give way. But the conflict is not one between equal parties. Despite all the media hype, pretending that North Korea represents a major threat is exactly the same type of propaganda the US used when it talked of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

No doubt the regime of Kim Jong Un is cruel, even despicable. But the North Korean defence budget is no greater than that of the New York police department, while the US spends more on ‘defence’ than any other country. The US may rightly complain about the North Korean nuclear tests, but the US has tested over 1,000 nuclear missiles. From its Vandenberg Air Base in California, the US regularly tests Minuteman 3 long-range nuclear missiles that could reach and obliterate Pyongang. It stubbornly persists in threatening ‘war exercises’ simulating an invasion of North Korea, deploying 17,000 US troops with 50,000 South Koreans, has recently deployed THAAD radar systems against the wishes of South Koreans, and has made ‘a good deal’ selling millions of dollars’ worth of weaponry to South Korea.

The more the US threatens Kim Jong Un, the less secure he will feel, and the less likely he is to stop the nuclear missile programme which he feels will protect him. Realistically, which country represents the greater danger to the world? The US, which has 6,800 nuclear warheads, or North Korea? The US, which has dropped over 6000 bombs on seven countries in 2017 alone, or North Korea, which has dropped no bombs on any country? The US, which is the only country to have dropped atom bombs on another country - Japan in 1945 - or North Korea, which has not dropped an atom bomb on any country? The US, whose blanket bombing of Korea during the Korean War in the 1950s resulted in 1.5 million civilian deaths in Korea, or North Korea, who did not kill anyone in the continental US during that war?

The US’s past brutal history in the Korean peninsula gives it no right to set itself up as a paragon of virtue or a guardian for security of the peninsula. Quite the opposite in fact. Why does the US persist in having so many military bases all around the world, including Guam, seventy years after World War II ended? Which, in reality, is the more warlike country? What interest groups benefit from the destabilisation of the Korean Peninsula?

The IAWM calls for:

1. A rapid de-escalation of the conflict, both verbally and materially, by both sides, as proposed by China and Russia. A withdrawal of US troops from South Korea as well as removal of the controversial THAAD system, an end to the taunting military exercises in the South, and an end to the threatening testing of missiles and nuclear warheads in the North.

2. The end of loose and aggressive talk and tweets which ‘normalise’ the idea of nuclear conflict, which could in fact devastate the entire planet.

3. An immediate re-opening of diplomatic talks between the US and North Korea on neutral ground without preconditions, with a lot more carrots [e.g. removal of all sanctions] and a lot fewer sticks. [Direct U.S.-North Korean talks have worked in the past. During the Clinton administration in the 1990s there was an Agreed Framework, under which Pyongyang said it would, among other steps, ultimately end its nuclear program in exchange for two light-water nuclear reactors and heavy-fuel oil shipments. Under the deal, North Korea froze its nuclear program from 1994 to 2003 and, as the Arms Control Association points out, without this freeze “North Korea could have enough plutonium for more than 100 nuclear warheads today.”]

3. An end to the development and ‘testing’ of nuclear weapons not only in North Korea, but also in the US and the rest of the world.

4. Destruction of all existing nuclear weapons and a commitment to end research programmes into production of mini-nukes, so-called tactical nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield.

5. Allowing the Korean people to decide their own fate without intervention and goading by foreign powers and eventually to overcome the partition imposed on their country by said powers.

The Korean situation reminds us of why we cannot disregard the threat of nuclear war, at a higher probability now than any time since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

We can only hope that saner voices prevail, and work toward a nuclear-free planet.


Glenda Cimino, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 086 124 9456
Jim Roche, PRO, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 087 647 2737
John Molyneux, Secretary, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 085 735 6424
Edward Horgan, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 085 851 9623
Michael Youlton, Chair, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 086 815 9487
Memet Uludag, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 087 7919307

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