The "Freeze to Freeze" Solution: US Peace Delegation Calls for Immediate Response To North Korea's Offer to Freeze Its Nuclear Program
September 2, 2017 Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korean and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific
A delegation composed of Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, Reece Chenault of US Labor Against the War, Will Griffin of Veterans for Peace, and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has returned from the Korean Peninsula with a call for the US and South Korea to refrain from hosting provocative "military exercises" and THAAD missile-defense escalations. Instead, the US should respond to North Korea's invitation to cease its nuclear program in return for an end to US military provocations and sanctions.
(August 2017) -- The Solidarity Peace Delegation, concluding their July 23-28 visit to South Korea, calls for immediate US-South Korean action to de-escalate growing military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The delegation was composed of Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, Reece Chenault of US Labor Against the War, Will Griffin of Veterans for Peace, and recent Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. It was sponsored by The Channing and Popai Liem Education Foundation and the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific.(STIK).
The delegation issued the following statement: The Korean Peninsula is rapidly approaching the boiling point. On the last day of our visit, July 28, North Korea conducted a missile test, and the US-South Korean governments launched another set of warning missiles.
South Korean President Moon announced he would allow the United States to deploy four additional launchers to complete the controversial THAAD anti-missile system unit, reversing his previous position. In light of these escalations and the likelihood of more aggressive measures, urgent actions are needed in order to de-escalate tensions.
North Korea has repeatedly offered to suspend its nuclear weapons development in exchange for a freeze in US-South Korean joint war exercises. It's time for the US and South Korea to respond to this offer as a jumping off point for definitive negotiations towards a peaceful, sovereign, nuclear-free Korean peninsula, free from the conflicts of competing global powers that have been so harmful to the region.
North and South Korea have lived in a perpetual wartime mobilization for decades, with the presence in the South of 83 US bases and nearly 30,000 US troops. Provocations are being made with increasing frequency by both North Korea and the United States.
Each time North Korea conducts an additional nuclear or missile test, the potential severity of hostilities escalates, and the more difficult it becomes to defuse tensions and avert the outbreak of conflict on the Peninsula.
Given the proximity of North Korea to Seoul, a metropolitan area of 25 million people, any outbreak of hostilities would be devastating. In a North Korean attack with conventional weapons, it's estimated that 64,000 South Koreans would be killed in the first day alone.
Even a limited exchange using nuclear weapons risks causing "nuclear winter," a disruption of the climate due to the reduction of sunlight from airborne dust and debris. This, in turn, could drastically reduce global agricultural production, leading to worldwide famine and hundreds of millions of deaths.
Since Seoul would be caught in the crossfire of any hostilities, it is essential that the conflict be handled through diplomacy. The sooner diplomatic action is launched, the more likely it will succeed.
Therefore, we call for immediate diplomatic action to reduce threats that push North Korea towards the development of nuclear weapons. Foremost among these threats are the US-South Korean joint war exercises against North Korea, which include dropping mock nuclear bombs on North Korea.
In addition, the United States has long held a "nuclear first strike" policy towards North Korea. This frightening threat of a pre-emptive US nuclear attack gives North Korea good reason to want a nuclear arsenal as the sole means for deterring such an attack.
Fortunately, tensions can be defused through actions that are diplomatic, strategic, just and long overdue.
Specifically, the Peace Delegation calls for the following actions: * Declare an end to the unethical and hyper-aggressive, nuclear first strike position held by the US towards North Korea.
* Declare an immediate moratorium on US-South Korean war games, including the dropping of mock nuclear bombs on North Korea. This would be a first step towards a formal agreement ending US-South Korean war games in exchange for North Korea freezing its weapons and nuclear program. The US government should respond to North Korea's long-standing offer by inviting North Korea to begin serious negotiations for such an agreement now.
* Withdraw THAAD, the misnamed missile "defense" system recently installed by the US in Seongju, South Korea despite vigorous and ongoing protests by local residents. THAAD is not actually capable of defending against incoming missiles under real world conditions with multiple missiles and decoys. Its powerful radar system is widely believed to have been deployed for the purpose of spying on China, provoking dangerous tensions in the region.
* Begin negotiating a peace treaty to finally bring closure to the Korean War. The Korean War, in which nearly 20% of North Korea's population was killed, has never been formally ended with a peace treaty.
* The South Korean government should lift travel bans on peace activists, like the ban that prevented our Korean-American trip leader Juyeon Rhee from accompanying our tour.
Delegates also call for more peace delegations so that the US peace movement can build stronger solidarity with their counterparts in the South, and learn firsthand about the negative consequences of US military bases on Korean soil.
In the coming weeks, the coalition will help launch a campaign to mobilize citizen pressure for a peaceful resolution of the volatile conflict on the Korean peninsula.
Peace Delegation Members: Jill Stein, Green Party 2016 presidential candidate
Reece Chenault, US Labor Against War
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK
Will Griffin, Veterans for Peace
Take Action: Support the "Freeze for Freeze" Plan
For Peace in the Korean Peninsula Veterans for Peace
For ten days, from August 21 to August 31, US and South Korean forces will kick off the Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military drills, highly provocative and threatening rehearsals for war involving tens of thousands of soldiers simulating surgical strikes on North Korea. Pyongyang views this as threatening and justification for pursuing its nuclear weapons and missile program.
A proposal on the table to avert war and start talks is "freeze for freeze" in which North Korea suspends its nuclear and missile testing in exchange for halting or scaling back large-scale US-South Korea joint war drills.
A growing number of American officials are calling for this "freeze for freeze," which has also been proposed by North Korea, China and Russia.
Veterans For Peace is joining with multiple organizations under the Korea Peace Network for A Week of Actions!
We demand: * Stop reckless brinkmanship; Start Talks Now!
* Suspend US-ROK military rehearsals for war in exchange for North Korea's halting of nuclear and missile testing.
* De-escalate tensions and build mutual trust by reuniting Korean Americans with their families in North Korea, and repatriating the remains of US servicemen still in North Korea.
* Start the peace process towards signing a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War.
It's important to bring attention to the US war drills that are currently happening in the region. A good way to bring attention to this is by having a public action or vigil.
A good location can be in front of your congressional offices or at a busy intersection. Potential sign ideas are "No War in Korea," "End US War Games in Korea," "Support Freeze for a Freeze in Korea," "Start Talks, Not War," and "End the Korean War Now with a Peace Treaty."
Contact your local Congressional representative. If you are unsure of your local representative, you can find out here. Make sure to say that you want a diplomatic solution to end the dangerous brinkmanship and that you fully support the "Freeze for a Freeze".
Contact Local Media
It's more important than ever to contact our media and encourage them to tell the full story of the US' role in Korea. Sending letters to the editor and calling news stations can be helpful and powerful ways to do this.
When writing a letter to the editor:
Make sure to include a few facts but keep it short and simple. Some quick potential points to make: * The Korean War has never ended and many want a peace treaty that the US refuses to discuss.
* Freeze for a Freeze: every major player in the region has agreed to support Korea's freezing of their nuclear program in exchange for the US stopping their war exercises. The US refuses to agree to this.
* The US has a large military force in Korea and continues dangerous military exercises
Don't forget to mention that you are a member of Veterans For Peace
When calling a news station:
Politely express dismay at their coverage of Korea. Remember reporters and producers are people just like us and often might not be aware of the full story of Korea. The best way to reach out and educate is assume good will and present helpful resources for them.
Know what you want to say before you call! Keep your points short and simple and offer to send more information.
VFP's Korea Peace Campaign maintains a wealth of resources and links to articles. Please check the Korea Peace Campaign page regularly since it's updated frequently.