Disarmament Shouldn’t be a Precondition for Negotiations with North Korea


(Image: Robin Atzeni / Shutterstock)

“We have to acknowledge that North Korea isn’t going to give up its nuclear capability as a precondition for negotiations,” foreign policy expert John Feffer said on Intercepted, “Why on Earth would they?”

North Korea’s nuclear ambition is best contextualized in history. Following the separation of the Koreas, both countries adopted different political-economic systems.

South Korea became more deeply embedded into the global economy and North Korea turned inward—a dichotomy that set the two countries off onto wildly divergent economic outcomes.

“It’s really exaggerated or aggravated by the collapse of communism,” Feffer said. When cheaply-supplied oil from the Soviet Union stopped entering North Korea, its agricultural and industrial capacity collapsed.

By 1995, a series of natural disasters set off a multi-year period of famine the country has yet to recover from.

“It was necessary for North Korea to find some other fuel source,” Feffer says, tying its nuclear ambition to its oil crisis. “But there was a military component as well.”

Not only was the South Korean economy flourishing in this time period, but its military capability was bolstered by American technological aid.

“North Korea fell behind rather rapidly. To level the playing field,” Feffer said, nuclear capability was seen as a cheap way of “coming up to speed.”

It also provided deterrence against “any possible U.S. intervention—either bombing or actual physical intervention into the country.”

“If they had not developed nuclear weapons. North Korea probably would not exist today.”

In contemporary diplomatic relations, Feffer argued, “We have to come up with different kinds of security guarantees in the process of negotiating with North Korea. We also have to acknowledge  that they’re not going to give away nuclear capability after a week of negotiations.”

“It’s going to take a while for this trust-building exercise to have any kind of impact,” Feffer said.

Listen to the full interview on Intercepted.


Oxfam reaction to UN announcement on the enforcement of a security zone and call for disarmament in Goma and Sake

In reaction to the UN’s peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO’s) announcement on the enforcement of a security zone and call for disarmament in Goma and Sake, Oxfam’s humanitarian program coordinator in DRC, Tariq Riebl said;

“Oxfam urges the UN Peacekeeping force to proceed with the utmost caution as it enforces their call for disarmament and to ensure that civilians are adequately protected from any ensuing violence. The removal of so many arms that have been used to terrorize civilians in the area should help reduce the appalling levels of human suffering but the UN must ensure that its operations do not make a bad situation much worse.”

“The humanitarian repercussions from the escalation in conflict have already been devastating for the civilian population with tens of thousands fleeing to safety internally and across the border into Uganda.”

“The Goma-Sake area that will be the focus of the UN international brigade is packed with tens of thousands of displaced Congolese. Civilians have gone through hell and back again over the last year and are desperate for peace and stability. The MONUSCO brigade must give guarantees that those civilians stuck in the middle of this crisis will be protected. Congolese men and women have suffered enough through the years, we call on all parties to make the protection of the local population their top priority.”


Editors notes

** Oxfam is one of the biggest agencies in North Kivu province. In Goma, we are working in 3 main camps: Bulengo, Lac Vert and Mugunga III providing cash distributions and a community services program for displaced persons.

** In the past two weeks fighting has renewed between the M23 rebels and FARDC a few kilometers outside of Goma causing displacement. Additionally, civilians have been forced to flee en masse from Kamango across the border into western Uganda following reported violence by the ADF. Oxfam is now providing water, sanitation and hygiene facilities to thousands of refugees in Bubukwanga transit camp.

** The United Nations Security Concern Resolution (2098) adopted on the 28th March 2013 authorized the establishment of an Intervention Brigade (IB) within MONUSCO to “carry out targeted offensive operations… either unilaterally or jointly with the FARDC to prevent the expansion of all armed groups, neutralize these groups, and to disarm them in order to contribute to the objective of reducing the threat posed by armed groups on state authority and civilian security in eastern DRC and to make space for stabilization activities.”