The Guardian 30 July, 2008
Peace on the Korean peninsula:
the urgent task of our times
PYONGYANG, Korea — Reducing military tension and ensuring peace on the Korean peninsula is a matter of the utmost urgency, in regard to both the demands of the current world situation and the desire for peace on behalf of the vast majority of the world’s people.
When peace is ensured in Korea, one of the most volatile hot spots on the face of the earth will disappear and humanity’s aspiration for peace will be much closer to realisation.
But to ensure peace on the Korean peninsula means removing the factor obstructing it.
A long period, more than half a century, has already passed since the Korean War came to an end in July 1953. However, the peninsula is still in a state of cease-fire. The root cause of this situation lies in the hostile policy of the United States towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea). As in the years of the Cold War, so in the present century there is no great change in the US hostile policy.
Now is the 21st century.
Fundamental changes are taking place both in the thinking and practice of the world’s people and in international relations. These developments are bringing about a considerable change in the relations between countries.
The change of the times as seen today demands that the United States make a turnabout in its hostile policy towards the DPRK.
If the United States continues to turn away from the demands of the times, and does not change, there can be neither improvement in DPRK-US relations nor can there be the relaxation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Replacing the armistice agreement with a peace agreement is one of the basic conditions for ensuring peace on the peninsula.
The prevailing tense situation and the ever-increasing danger of war in the area can be traced to the failure in establishing a system for permanent peace and, instead, to the continuation of a state of ceasefire in this region. The armistice agreement is not a step for ensuring durable peace but is, literally, a step for the temporary cessation of hostilities.
When the armistice agreement is replaced with a peace agreement, military confrontation can be removed and the matter of building trust between the DPRK and the United States can also be solved.
However, the United States is holding back on replacing the armistice agreement, a legacy of the Cold War, with a peace agreement.
This shows that the United States has no intention of abandoning its hostile policy toward the DPRK and ensure peace on the Korean peninsula. There is no region in the world where a state of ceasefire has been kept up for more than half a century.
The United States is currently trying to use the peninsula as a military foothold and a point of strategic importance for holding in check its military rivals on the Eurasian continent and realising its aggressive policy towards Asia. That is why the United States is so against replacing the armistice with a peace agreement.
If it truly wants peace on the peninsula, the United States should make no bones about concluding a peace treaty with the DPRK; the US even stated on several occasions that it would not militarily threaten or invade the DPRK.
Ending hostile relations between the DPRK and the US and, instead, promoting trust is necessary in realizing the normalisation of DPRK-US relations — and improving the image of the US as well, to say nothing of ensuring peace on the peninsula.
One important condition for peace is for the US to stop its ongoing attempts to change Japan and the southern part of Korea into American military bases and to withdraw its armed forces from the Asia-Pacific region.
At present, Japanese militarists and forces in South Korea are hell-bent on anti-DPRK manoeuvres, such as the attempts to apply sanctions against the DPRK and re-invade it — under the patronage of the US.
If there is no support and protection for these policies by the US, the peril of war will be reduced on the peninsula.
Bringing peace to Korea and achieving its reunification is the earnest desire of the Korean people. The US should properly face up to the times, boldly perform a turnabout in its policy toward the DPRK and fulfil the responsibility it bears in ensuring peace in Korea.