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Friday, February 26, 2021

For Peace in Korea: Declaration of the Friendship Association of Belgium-Korea

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Today, the United Nations nuclear weapons ban comes into force. Fifty countries have
ratified it. In those countries, it is forbidden to possess, produce, develop, develop, test, use or to threaten to use nuclear weapons. They call on all other countries to sign too, making the whole world nuclear-free.

Belgium, the USA, all the NATO countries, have not signed, and with that they continue to threaten to use them. With the nuclear weapons, stored in Kleine Brogel, and with the purchase of the F35 fighter jets, Belgium also installed the practical means to use them. According to Western sources there are 13,400 warheads in the world, of which in the USA 5800, Russia 6375, Great Britain – 215, France – 290, China – 320, India – 150, Pakistan – 160, Israel – 90, Democratic People’s Republic (DPRK) -30-40. The countries, which have voted sanctions against Korea (N) for nuclear weapons, own (and continue to modernize) 99.8% of the world’s nuclear weapons, and Korea (N) owns 0.2%. Who’s threatening who?

As early as July 7, 2017, the United Nations approved a first version (L.41) of a nuclear
weapons treaty prohibiting the development, testing, production and transport of nuclear weapons at the United Nations. Of the countries that owned nuclear weapons, Korea (N) was the only country to approve the treaty. The Netherlands voted against.

The other NATO member states have simply boycotted the negotiations. In a press statement dated 7 July at 12:51 p.m., the ambassadors of the USA, the United Kingdom and France stated that they had “not participated in the negotiations for the nuclear weapons treaty, and did not intend to sign, ratify, or participate in it.”

Those countries hoped and thought that the vote that Korea (N) cast in the UN was a sign of weakness, and saw an occasion to step up the threats and sanctions against Korea. On September 19, 2017, President Donald Trump declared in his maiden speech to the UN : “If the USA is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” (no empty threat: this is what the USA did before in the war of 1950-1953). Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, on the other hand, declared at the UN that day that “more can be achieved with North Korea through dialogue than through threats.” On November 9, 2017, Trump sent the aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Nimitz through the Pacific ocean toward Korea.

For Korea (N), this prompted them to continue their own nuclear weapons program. In October 2020, Honduras was the 50th country to ratify the nuclear weapons treaty, which will become binding on 22 January 2021. No state, which has nuclear weapons of its own, has already ratified this treaty. The USA, the first in history, bombed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Five years later, in 1950, the U.S. started a terrible colonial war throughout Korea, bombing all the cities in the North, and (according to Korean sources) killing 4 million people. On Pyongyang, they dropped 428,000 bombs, which is more than the number of people at the time. There are still survivors today who continue to testify about the atrocities of that war. The U.S. built an 26-foot-tall wall that divides Korea into North and South, and they still occupy the South with 88 military bases and an estimated 25,000 U.S. military personnel. In 1953, the US signed an armistice, but to this day they refuse to sign a peace treaty.

Officially, the countries are still at war. The concern among all Koreans, both in the South and in the North, that the US will once again attack the country is very
high. From the 1990s onwards, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea developed its defense, with a nuclear power plant and launched intercontinental missiles, bringing, among other things, a satellite into orbit. After the American bombing of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, which did not have nuclear weapons and could not give back, Korea felt even more threatened and urged to continue its nuclear policy.

Especially when President Bush called Iraq, Korea and Iran “the axis of evil” in the same breath. Every year, the U.S. maintains military maneuvers on the Border between North and South, with thousands of soldiers from the U.S. and South Korean militaries. On
both sides of the border, the inhabitants then see American warplanes in the air, they hear the roar of the cannons, with binoculars they try to catch the tanks in the eye. The scenario of these “Team Spirit” exercises is an American incursion from the South to the North. All this does not prompt the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to unilaterally reduce their armaments, quite the contrary. In the U.S., the peace movement is calling on President Joe Biden not to hold these maneuvers this year and to start real diplomacy.

Joe Biden’s military strategy, however, raises many questions. In it (1) he blames Donald Trump for undermining “our “democratic” alliances – NATO. Biden, on the other hand, called for ” keeping NATO’s military capabilities sharp ” and called on ” all
NATO nations to recommit to their responsibilities as members of a democratic alliance”.

In his letter to Yonhap news agency on 30.10.2020 he accused Trump of ” extorting Seoul with reckless threats to remove our troops .”

(2) Biden doesn’t want to withdraw U.S. troops from Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also in favor of the war in Iraq, as was his Foreign Minister Blinken and Defense Minister Austin. Biden : “to advance our objective a denuclearized North Korea”. The US, which does have more nuclear weapons, is not going to denuclearize. Biden will ” reduce the role of nuclear weapons” but not reduce their quantity and quality . As he said in 2017, Biden believes “the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring—and if necessary, retaliating against—a nuclear attack”.

Because we need to “invest to equip our troops for the challenges of the next century, not the past century.” On December 7th, 2013, Joe Biden laid the wreath at the Yongsan District War Memorial of Korea, to honor the 36,574 American soldiers who died during the war. A tribute to the Korean War. He did not commemorate the 4 million Koreans who died in the American bombing in that 1950-53 colonial war, nor did he express his intention to conclude a peace treaty with North Korea and end that war once and for all.

We have a dream. About a united country Belgium, without nuclear weapons, without NATO, without sanctioning and threatening other countries, without F35 fighter jets, with Kleine Brogel as a public walking park. And about one peacefully reunited country Korea, incorporated into the international community, without sanctions, nuclear weapons, American military, bombing and war bases in and around. As a Belgium-Korea Friendship Association, we fervently hope that in the future, preferably as soon as possible, Belgium and Korea will sign a nuclear weapons ban and destroy their nuclear weapons as planned. And that, together, all the countries in the world will do that simultaneously. It is unrealistic to expect Korea to unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons.

“That requirement, as a condition for the start of diplomatic talks, is a measure of nothing” writes Professor Tom Sauer in De Standaard (3): “a way out of this crisis can by definition only be possible through diplomatic means of taking small positive steps on both sides, which in the long run should reduce the enormous mistrust between the two sides”. Our friendship association, for example, is in favor of the establishment of an embassy of the DPRK Korea (N) in Brussels, so that our two countries at least start talking to each other. We are also trying to do on a modestly small scale, which politics
can do on a large scale, taking confidence-building practical steps.

In South Korea, our Friendship Association participates every year in Seoul in a peace forum, the International Forum for Peace, Democracy and Reunification. In North Korea, we support a humanitarian project for agriculture, education and medicine in a village of rice farmers, Ryongban. And in Pyongyang the Institute for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Children. When the Covid-19 plague is over, we want to organize trips to South and North Korea again. Anyone who wants to see the country with your own eyes can come
along.

(1) The Power of America’s example : the Biden plan for leading the democratic world to meet the challenges of the 21 century, 11.07.2019
(2) Biden sends special contribution to South Korean state news agency, 30.10.2020
(3) Stap voor stap naar een uitweg uit de Noord-Koreaanse crisis. Professor Tom Sauer, De Standaard 30 augustus 2017.

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