By Luka Preradović, a croatian writer who focuses on military history and has an interest in Asia. This article represents the author’s own views.
Whenever a discussion by news outlets, politicians, analysts and experts involving North Korea and reasons for acquiring capability to produce weapons of mass destruction, Saddam and Iraq are often mentioned as main reason for them to acquire the ability to manufacture the most potent and effective deterrent that a sovereign country can have at its disposal against foreign aggression, with nuclear bombs possessing the capability to annihilate significant conventional force.
What is not mentioned in such discourse about North Korea is its perception that it is under the the nuclear crosshairs of the United States since prologue of Korean War since the Truman and later by the Eisenhower administration, of which publicly insinuated the use of atomic bombs against North Korea. Pyongyang states such nuclear blackmail continued long after Korean Armistice Agreement was signed in 1953.
Another crucial issue that is not mentioned is the United States are argued to violate the armistice by deploying nuclear weapons in South Korea, such as bombs along cannons and missiles armed with atomic warheads in 1958 in abrogation of Paragraph 13 d) of KAA. Process started in 1956 and 1957. Both the United States and South Korea sabotaged the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission in 1954, NNSC was responsible for monitoring the adherence to KAA by way of inspection and investigation of potential violations. South Korea threatened use of force against NNSC inspectors from Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1954 and the United States pressured for withdrawal from North Korea the NNSC inspectors from Switzerland and Sweden.
The MGM-1 Matador was deployed in South Korea with a range that could cover the entirety of North Korea, the most populated areas of mainland China and the far east of the Soviet Union. Nuclear weapons were withdrawn from South Korea during the dissolution of Soviet Union in 1991 hence North Korea didn’t have a nuclear umbrella that the USSR could have provided to the North.
Another comparable issue is American nuclear weapons were deployed in Japan in the 1950s. The Japanese government allowed the United States to introduce and host nuclear weapons in the country. One of secret agreements were reported in 1972 by Japanese newspaper Mainichi Daily. The Japanese journalists who uncovered and reported on it were later jailed and fired from the job. This may connect to the longstanding controversies relating to the abduction of Japanese by Pyongyang, which may have been linked to espionage operations on nuclear provisions.
In addition, MGM-13 Mace cruise missiles were deployed in Okinawa in the 1960s that could target the entirety of North Korea, the most populated areas of mainland China and parts of Soviet Union’s far east. Nuclear weapons were withdrawn from Japan in 1974, secretly of course as if they weren’t there.
In 1994, the Agreed Framework agreement was signed between the United States and North Korea. The United States, Japan and South Korea were to provide funds and materials under joint organization Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization for two Light Water Reactors that would replace Magnox type reactors for generation of electricity by use of nuclear energy. Shipments of 500,000 tons of heavy oil under Agreed Framework were not delivered on time. Control of the congress in the U.S. switched from Democrats to Republicans in 1994 that heavily opposed the agreement which led to delays in funding for Light Water Reactors and in 1998, North Koreans due to delays considered continuing their own research in nuclear generated energy.
A Report to the U.S. congress in 1998 stated that North Korea adhered to Agreed Framework and that it would collapse if the United States does not fulfil its obligation it agreed to under agreement. Construction of Light Water Reactors started in 2002, well behind schedule that was initially set for completion in 2003 and by 2003 the construction was halted ever since. In a clear act of hostility the administration demonstrated with the “Axis of Evil” speech by George W. Bush of which denounced Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Shipments of fuel to North Korea were halted in 2002.
Before the 1994 agreement, North Korea had started the process of withdrawing from the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1993 and had suspended the process at the last day when withdrawal would come into effect under the NPT rules, 2003 it continued the process and withdrew from it. North Korea stated in 2005 that it will join NPT, allow IAEA inspections and halt development of nuclear weapons under accord with conditions of Light Water Reactors were to be built along its right to have capability to provide own lowly enriched uranium for the reactors to be recognized.
On October 9th in 2006, North Korea conducted a nuclear weapons test and rest is history.