Das geteilte Land - KOREA

2011: Solidarity for Peace

North Korean Sanctions
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From Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea;
National Association of Korean Americans; and
Nodutdol for Korean Community Development

Requesting the Revocation of HR 1321
"North Korea Sanctions and Diplomatic Non-recognition Act of 2011" and Urging the Expeditious Resumption of the Six Party Talks

April 13, 2011

Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen,

The North Korea Sanctions and Diplomatic Non-recognition Act of 2011, which proposes to re-designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, was introduced in the U.S. Congress on April 1. This bill is a product of U.S.’s hostile stance towards North Korea, and fails to satisfy the criteria for the designation of a state as a state-sponsor of terrorism, as defined by the United States. Moreover, it is a direct obstacle to the resumption of the six party talks.

1. Revoke HR1321 – product of U.S.’s hostile stance towards North Korea

(1) HR1321 alleges that the supposed assassination attempt of the former DPRK Worker’s Party Secretary Hwang Jang-yop, the sinking of the Cheonan, and the artillery duel near Yeonpyong Islandare acts of international terrorism committed by North Korea, and proposes the Secretary of State re-designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. These incidents, however, either have no relation to terrorism or do not conform to the criteria for designating a state as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Numerous scholars and experts have raised critical questions and presented counter-evidencesthat contradict the allegation that the sinking of the Cheonan was the result of a North Korean attack. But even if the sinking of the Cheonan was the direct result of a North Korean attack, as alleged by the South Korean government, the incident is better characterized as an act of aggression by a state against the military of another state (South Korean navy), not an act of international terrorism. U.S. State Department spokesperson Phillip Crowley has said, "It is our judgment that the sinking of the Cheonan is not an act of international terrorism and by itself would not trigger placing North Korea on the state-sponsored terrorism list." (ARF, June 28, 2010)

The same is true of the artillery duel near Yeonpyeong Island on November 23, 2010. On that day, the South Korean military conducted an artillery drill in a maritime firing zone near the Northern Limit Line. According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, "It is possible that some of the South Korean military’s artillery shells landed on the northern side of the Northern Limit Line." (South Korean National Assembly, National Defense Committee meeting minutes, November 24, 2010, p6) If South Korean artillery shells did indeed land in North Korean territorial waters, the greater responsibility for the Yeongpyeong Island artillery duel lies with South Korea. Furthermore, the area where the artillery duel took place is contested waters and the site of multiple clashes between North and South Korea. Even if we were to put aside the dispute regarding who is responsible for the Yeongpyeong Island artillery drill, the incident arose out of a territorial dispute between two countries, and like the Cheonan incident, can in no way be considered an act of international terrorism.

Regarding the alleged assassination attempt of the former DPRK Worker’s Party Secretary Hwang Jang-yop, countless questions have been raised about the timing of the announcement of the incident as well as the allegation that it was the work of North Korean agents. And as for allegations about North Korea supplying arms to Hamas and Hezbollah, as frequently reported by western media, they are always based on sources that are either unverifiable or whose reliability is questionable. According to US State Department Counter-terrorism Coordinator Daniel Benjamin, there is no evidence to believe that North Korea supported international terrorism since it was taken off the state sponsor of terrorism list in October 2008. (Asia Today, November 18, 2010)

(2) HR1321 proposes to keep North Korea on the state sponsor of terrorism list as long as it fails to meet twelve conditions, including issuing an apology to South Korea for the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island incidents, demonstration of proof that it does not proliferate fissile materials or nuclear/missile technology, and admission of Red Cross representatives to inspect North Korean prison camps on a regular basis. But these conditions far exceed the criteria outlined by the United States for removing a state from the state sponsor of terrorism list.

The Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island incidents were disputes between two countries, not acts of terrorism, and there is no agreement on the question of who is responsible for these incidents. To point to these incidents as reasonsfor re-listing North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism does not conform to criteria and procedures as outlined by the United States for determining a state as a state sponsor of terrorism. Demonstration of proof that it does not proliferate missile and nuclear technology is practically unfeasible. Permitting regular inspections of North Korea’s prison camps by Red Cross representatives is a condition that can be interpreted by North Korea as interfering with its internal affairs. These conditions for being removed from the list of state sponsor of terrorism are selectively applied to North Korea and are unreasonably stricter than what US guidelines specify - "…if thePresident submits at least 45 days before the proposed rescission would take effect, a report justifying the rescission and certifying that the government concerned has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding 6-month period; and the government concerned has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future."

HR 1321 is the product of an extremely hostile anti-North Korea policy, which aims to completely obstruct all means for North Korea to be removed from the state sponsor of terrorism list.

2. HR1321 should be revoked as it violates agreements of the six-party talks

(1) The removal of North Korea from the list of state sponsor of terrorism on October 12, 2008 was based on the September 19, 2005 joint statement of the six party talks, and the direct result of tireless efforts and dialogue for denuclearization of North Korea and normalization of U.S.-North Korea relations. The removal of North Korea from the state sponsor of terrorism list is arguably the most significant step since the Korean War towards ending U.S.’s policy of confrontation towards North Korea and normalizing U.S.-North Korea relations.

(2) According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, "Adding and removing North Korea to and from the state sponsor of terrorism list were based more on political and diplomatic factors than legal criteria." (CRS Report "North Korea: Back on the Terrorism List?" June 29, 2010) This suggests that U.S.’s confrontational stance towards North Korea may be playing a greater role than the law in considering the re-designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.

(3) The passage of H.R. 1321, which will re-list North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, will roll back all past gains hard-won through dialogue and undermine agreements reached through the six party talks. It is highly possible that North Korea will interpret this action as U.S.’s move towards an all-out confrontational policy, andturn, once again, to hostile counter measures for self-preservation. This will in turn escalate war threats on the Korean peninsula and lead us even further way from resolving the problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

3. We urge you to take steps for the expeditious resumption of the six-party talks.

(1) U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who initiated H.R. 1321, met with the South Korean National Assembly’s Diplomacy, Commerce, and Unification Committee Chair Nam Kyung-pil on January 4, 2011. She expressed concern that President Lee Myung-bak shared China's position of denuclearizing North Korea through the six party talks, and declared her position that North Korea should be re-added to the list of state sponsorsof terrorism. (RFA, January 4, 2011) What is clear from her statement is that among the intentions behind H.R. 1321 is to block the resumption of the six party talks. Revoking this bill is to eliminate one of the greatest obstacles standing in the way of resuming the six party talks.

(2) U.S.’s policy of confrontation towards North Korea is the direct cause of North Korea's nuclear weapons development. Therefore, halting U.S.’s policy of confrontation towards North Korea is the most effective way to denuclearizing North Korea. As a condition for denuclearization, North Korea demands an end to U.S.’s hostile policy of confrontation, the abolishment of the U.S. nuclear umbrella over South Korea, and the abolishment of the U.S.-South Korea alliance. (February 3-7, 2009) Should North Korea, already inferior in conventional war capability, also give up its nuclear weapons, abolishing the U.S.-South Korea alliance poses no security threat, and this in turn will significantly contribute to reducing U.S. defense expenditures.

As such, we urge the U.S. Congress to cast aside its apprehension and mistrust, and without hesitation, take steps to facilitate the expeditious resumption of the six party talks.


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