AFSC Statement & Talking Points On The U.S. – North Korea Crisis
January 13, 2003
President George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
(Via fax and surface mail)
Dear President Bush,
Since 1997 the American Friends Service Committee has been working in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in a program to improve agricultural production on four cooperative farms. We also worked in the South after the Korean War to help rebuild communities ravaged by that war.
We are deeply concerned both for the people of North Korea and the hardship they are now undergoing, and for the people of South Korea who would suffer just as deeply in the event of war.
Our experience in fifty years of working with North and South Korea strengthens our conviction that a new arms race in Northeast Asia would be disastrous. We oppose the development and possession of nuclear weapons by North Korea, or indeed by any nation.
However the nuclear threats which North Korea is now making are not only a challenge to the US, but also a plea for dialogue. By choosing to respond to the plea rather than taking the threats at face value, the US will be best able to realize the goal of a nuclear-free peninsula.
Through dialogue the security concerns of all parties can be better understood and met with appropriate safeguards: the U.S. concerns about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and the DPRK concern about US military intentions toward it.
Moreover, the people of South Korea are calling for such an approach to the North. Their well being and security, as well as the well being and security of North Koreans, will not improve until the DPRK’s isolation from the world community is ended. South Koreans are also aware that the North has undertaken economic reform and political engagement with the international community in the past decade.
It is our firm conviction that only through talks between the US and the DPRK will a way forward without violence be found. Rhetorical threats of war by either side only lead to fear, not improved safety for people in Korea or the U.S. We urge your administration to continue to pursue dialogue with representatives of the DPRK.
Mary Ellen McNish
American Friends Service Committee
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that
includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace
and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of
every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and
US Policy Toward North Korea: An AFSC Perspective
We are deeply concerned about the recent steps taken by the DPRK with regards to the Non Proliferation Treaty and the removal of international inspectors from the DPRK. Our experience over the last fifty years of working with both North and South strengthens our conviction that a new arms race in Northeast Asia would be disastrous. We oppose the development and possession of nuclear weapons by North Korea, or indeed by any nation.
Given the extreme danger of the current situation, we urge that the Administration take note of the following realities:
· The Agreed Framework has been contravened by both sides. While DPRK failings have been publicly condemned, the US has also failed to fulfill key elements of the Agreed Framework, including progress toward diplomatic relations, timely delivery of Heavy Fuel Oil, construction of the Light Water Reactors, ending of economic sanctions, and a reduced military threat toward the DPRK.
· The Agreed Framework achieved important policy objectives. Since 1994, the nuclear reactor at Yongbyon has remained frozen with all plutonium created under continuous international inspection. Over the past decade, the DPRK has reached historic accords with South Korea and Japan, dramatically expanded its diplomatic ties, and generally undertaken the most far-reaching political engagement and economic reform process of its entire national history.
· Antagonistic rhetoric impedes a negotiated solution. Attacking the DPRK as part of the “axis of evil,” disparaging its non-proliferation agreements, and targeting it in the “Nuclear Posture Review” have exacerbated DPRK security fears. Current rhetoric demeaning potential diplomatic solutions poisons the US political environment against realistic resolutions to the current crisis. Personal attacks and slurs on the leaders of the DPRK undercut any willingness to negotiate or compromise.
· There is no “military option.” The military capacity of the DPRK and the lack of regional support for a policy of isolation and economic sanctions render negotiations the only feasible US policy option. Any war would be catastrophic given the advanced levels of US, ROK, and DPRK weaponry.
· American preeminence provides leeway for concessions. As the world’s greatest power supported by staunch allies, the US can afford to take the first step and offer meaningful concessions in order to achieve its policy objectives.
We urge the following priorities upon the Administration
· The Korean peninsula must remain free of nuclear weapons. The US and its allies should encourage greater DPRK participation in multilateral non-proliferation regimes. We cannot fall back to a reliance on missile defense systems, the deployment of which would inflame regional tensions and fuel a new arms race. Instead robust non-proliferation regimes provide the only means for security to the US and its allies.
· Respect the security concerns of the DPRK. The overwhelming US and ROK forces on the peninsula, combined with US nuclear might, represent an ever-present threat to the DPRK leadership. This can only be ameliorated through an ongoing process of diplomatic engagement.
· Respect the sovereignty of the DPRK. Unrealistic US policy premised upon an impending “collapse” precludes meaningful negotiations between sovereign equals. We must deal with the DPRK as it is, not as we might wish it to be.
· Negotiations with the DPRK must include the following elements:
· Security assurances. Only a bilateral, negotiated non-aggression pact will reduce DPRK anxiety about US military intentions.
. Progress toward diplomatic recognition. Respect for the DPRK as a legitimate and viable government is essential for bringing it into the international community as a responsible member.
· Economic assistance. Energy supports, emergency food assistance, and international development aid are morally imperative, politically practical and economically efficient. They will encourage internal reform policies while strengthening peaceful sources of income and legitimacy.
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in 2003