DPRK Nuclear Tests: an act of self-defence and a fitting response to imperialist threats

On Monday, 9th October, at 10.36am local time, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), tested its first nuclear bomb. By all accounts the underground explosion was a complete success. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) of the DPRK greeted the underground detonation as an “historic event that brought happiness to our military and people”, adding that there had been no radioactive leakage from the site. The test came within a week of the DPRK announcing that it planned to conduct such an explosion.

Imperialist hypocrisy

The actual test, as well as the earlier announcement of the DPRK’s intention to conduct it, were greeted by a virtually unanimous condemnation by the self-proclaimed ‘international community’, namely, a tiny clique of the most powerful imperialist bloodsuckers on earth – led by US imperialism. The hysterical response of the political and ideological representatives of imperialism to the DPRK’s nuclear test has been a veritable display of hypocrisy designed to mobilise international public opinion against, and bring to bear enormous pressure on, the DPRK for the latter’s just stance in defence of its sovereignty and social system.

US President, George W Bush, condemned the test as unacceptable and posing “a threat to global peace and security”, adding that “North Korea has defied the will of the international community, and the international community will respond”. This is the same Bush who is leading genocidal and predatory wars of aggression against the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the commander-in-chief of the US armed forces, who have in the last three years alone wiped out 650,000 innocent Iraqi men, women and children (accounting for 4 per cent of the Iraqi population) and reduced most Iraqi towns to rubble. This is the chief executive of the same US imperialism which waged genocidal wars of aggression in Korea and Vietnam, each of which claimed the lives of nearly four million people – the same US imperialism which earned world notoriety for its use of atom bombs against the defenceless citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the close of the Second World War.

It is the US nuclear arsenal, which accounts for 60 per cent of the global nuclear armoury, its military bases, including nuclear weapons in scores of foreign countries, south Korea among them, its wars against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and its threats against Iran, the DPRK and several other countries, which poses a threat to global peace and security – not the DPRK’s nuclear weapons which are produced solely in the interests of its own defence and as such pose no danger to anyone except those who harbour evil intent towards, and want to wage war against, it.

Tony Blair, British prime minister, Bush’s partner-in-crime against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, who has announced plans to replace the ageing Trident system, so as to maintain Britain as a credible nuclear power, had the temerity to call the DPRK test a “completely irresponsible act”. One may be pardoned for asking: If it is not completely irresponsible to wage countless imperialist wars and to maintain a massive nuclear arsenal as a means of intimidating defenceless countries and peoples, why should the acquisition by the DPRK of nuclear weapons for the sole purpose of countering imperialist nuclear blackmail be an act of complete irresponsibility? One has only to ask this question to be able to see through the absurdity and hypocrisy that underpins the furious condemnations of the DPRK nuclear test by the spokesmen of the leading imperialist powers.

Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, who touched down in Seoul just as reports of the test came in, said that it constituted a “serious threat [that] will transform in a major way the security environment in north east Asia and we will be entering a new, dangerous nuclear age”. This is the prime minister of a country, which occupied the whole of Korea and large parts of China between the two World Wars, treated the peoples of these countries with the utmost of brutality, in the process perpetrating gigantic massacres (for instance in Nanking) and subjecting a large number of Korean workers to forced prostitution as ‘comfort girls’ for the soldiers of the Japanese army of occupation; the same Japan that harbours imperialist designs on the rest of Asia and is bent upon tearing up its pacifist constitution and acquiring nuclear weapons. Japan needs these weapons, not to defend itself, but in order to challenge its imperialist rivals and intimidate non-imperialist countries alike. Only Simple Simons and ignorant yokels can fail to see that Japan’s clamour, increasingly asserted over the past 15 years, to be allowed to become a ‘normal’ country is nothing short of a claim to behave like its US, British and European imperialist rivals and be equipped with the same sort of weapons, including nuclear weapons, from which Japan is separated by two to six weeks – yes weeks.

The imperialist hypocrisy becomes even more obvious when one considers that Israel has never been targeted for acquiring WMD, while the US nodded and winked through India’s nuclear arms tests, obviously as a counter-weight to China.

Russia and China’s condemnation

While the condemnation of the DPRK’s nuclear test by the imperialist powers is understandable, if hypocritical, the disapproval of this test by Russia and China, especially the latter, is simply crazy considering that the interests of these two countries, far from being damaged, are meaningfully protected by the possession of nuclear weapons by the DPRK. If a weak and defenceless DPRK (which it would be without a strong defence capability and credible nuclear weapons) were to succumb to US imperialist aggression, it would result in US occupation of the entire Korean peninsula and bring the US military to the borders of Russia and China, further encircling and threatening both of them. In view of this, ignoring other far higher considerations, it beggars belief that Russian President Vladimir Putin should call this test a “colossal blow” and say that “Russia absolutely condemns North Korea’s nuclear test”, and that the Chinese foreign ministry should issue a statement “resolutely opposing” the test, while China’s ambassador to the UN, Wang Guangya, calls for “punitive actions against Pyongyang”.

Not wanting to lag behind the imperialist-led crescendo against the DPRK, even India and Pakistan, who exploded their own nuclear devices in 1998, fell in line and cretinously condemned the DPRK for testing a nuclear device – just as these two countries did eight years ago.

DPRK not the first to test a nuclear weapon

Judging from the stream of imperialist condemnation of the DPRK, one may be forgiven for thinking that the DPRK had perpetrated some heinous crime by committing an act of which no other country had ever before been guilty. The fact is that before the DPRK joined the nuclear club, there were already eight members of it – including Israel which, although it has never openly admitted to being one, is a country with a sizeable nuclear arsenal, and which has never been condemned by the so-called “international community” for manufacturing these weapons. The DPRK is neither the first to produce, nor the first to test, such weapons. Over the last six decades, since the US tested its first atom bomb, there have been 2,071 nuclear tests. Of these, 1,765 were conducted by the US and the Soviet Union – 1,050 by the US alone. In other words, more than half of all the nuclear tests conducted thus far have been conducted by the US. If we take into account the social systems prevailing in the countries at the time of these tests, 1,305 nuclear tests were conducted by three imperialist powers, with 760 by the two socialist countries and 6 by two so-called third world countries. Thus, nearly 60 per cent of all these detonations have been the work of imperialist countries. The DPRK is responsible for just one of these 2,072 tests. See Table 1 for the exact statistics on the number of tests so far and the countries responsible for them:

Security Council Resolution

Not content with verbal condemnation and unleashing a flood of anti-DPRK hysterical propaganda which has sought to malign the DPRK’s government and leadership in the most filthy imperialist terms, the US mobilised the UN Security Council (SC) to impose sanctions. In its Resolution (1718) of 14 October, the SC perversely characterising the DPRK test as a “clear threat to international peace and security”, went on to allow countries to stop cargo going to and from the DPRK to check for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or related supplies, while banning trade in heavy conventional weapons such as battle tanks, large calibre artillery, combat aircraft and missile systems, as well as freezing funds connected with the DPRK’s non-conventional arms programmes. In an effort to perpetuate the calumny that the DPRK leadership lives in the lap of luxury, the Resolution calls for a ban on trade with the DPRK in luxury goods – an idea which would be laughable if it wasn’t so sick.

In response to this Resolution, the DPRK justly accused the SC of acting in a “gangster-like” way in imposing sanctions, declaring that it would not bow to US might and might even detonate another device if the US did not desist from putting further pressure on it. Through a statement, the DPRK, characterised the SC Resolution 1718 as a “declaration of war”, adding that “the DPRK vehemently denounces the Resolution, a product of US hostile policy towards the DPRK, and totally refutes it”. Stating that it will “closely follow the future US attitude”, the statement warned: “The US would be well advised not to miscalculate the DPRK”.

Compelled to recognise the reality staring it in the face, the Financial Times (FT) of 18 October, which printed the above excerpts from the DRPK statements, correctly observed thus: “Even a few months ago, such threats would probably have been dismissed as more sabre-rattling from Mr Kim’s regime but these statements are now being taken more seriously following the missile tests [in July] and the nuclear tests”.

In the face of US-led pressure and threats, the masses of the people in the DPRK have rallied round the leadership, with hundreds of thousands rallying in Pyongyang’s main square on 20 October to hail the country’s nuclear test.

“An army-people rally was held at Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang on Friday to hail the success of the historic nuclear test. The Square was crowded with hundreds of thousands of men and officers of the People’s Army and citizens of all social standings”, reported KCNA.

It remains to be seen as to what extent various countries would attempt to abide by the Security Council Resolution. In addition, Japan and the US are already embarked on a course of unilateral actions against the DPRK. On 11 October, Japan banned all ships, imports and most DPRK nationals from entering the country. The US is attempting to coerce South Korea to end all inter-Korean cooperation projects, including the Mount Kumgang tourist resort, which since 1998 has earned the DPRK $950 million. In addition, the US is pressuring the South Korean authorities to get involved in its Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) aimed at interdicting ships carrying WMD technology. Any attempt to inspect or interdict DPRK vessels would be playing with fire and carries with it the risk of a horrendous war. The US and its supporters would be well-advised not to go down that route.

Just stance of the DPRK

The fulminations of US imperialism and its flunkeys notwithstanding, in conducting the nuclear test on 9 October, the DPRK has acted justly and its just stance deserves the support of progressive humanity at large. And this for the following reasons:

[1] By conducting this test, the DPRK has delivered a fatal blow to US president Bush’s doctrine of “axis of evil” and not letting its opponents develop nuclear weapons. In his 2002 State of the Union address – the speech in which he characterised Iraq, Iran and the DPRK as the “axis of evil”, he declared: “The United States of America will not allow the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most dangerous weapons”.

That boastful proclamation, in the name of which he took the US into the war in Iraq, must now be considered to lie in tatters. On the pretext of preventing the spread of WMD, the US invaded Iraq to ‘discover’ what it knew all along – that Iraq had no WMD. Five years on from Bush’s proclamation, the DPRK, by its successful detonation of a nuclear device, has delivered a final blow to the Bush doctrine. Even a former Clinton administration official, who dealt with the DPRK, has said that the war in Iraq has been a total fiasco for the US. Now Iran is closer to acquiring nuclear weapons and the DPRK has already acquired them – leaving Bush’s doctrine thoroughly discredited.

[2] The DPRK’s test has delivered a shattering blow to the attempts of the existing nuclear powers to monopolise these deadly weapons, thus bringing close to collapse the unjust 1968 Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime, under which the then five nuclear powers had agreed to work towards disarmament if others refrained from acquiring these weapons. Far from proceeding towards nuclear disarmament, these five powers have gone on to strengthen their nuclear arsenals to unprecedented levels. No wonder, then, that India and Pakistan gate crashed their way into the nuclear club. And, no wonder then, that the DPRK decided to do the same, as the only reliable way of defending its sovereign existence as a socialist country.

[3] The DPRK’s test has furnished eloquent proof, if indeed such proof was ever required, that the only way to stop imperialist aggression is through the possession of nuclear weapons. Would Yugoslavia and Iraq have been invaded if they had been in possession of nuclear weapons? The answer is a definite no. No less a person than Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State under Clinton, told the Financial Times in an interview earlier this year: “The message out of Iraq is that if you don’t have nuclear weapons you get invaded, if you do have nuclear weapons, you don’t get attacked”.

This lesson was not lost on the DPRK. Nor will it be lost on Iran and other countries. In view of the fact that the DPRK has unambiguously and unequivocally stated that if the US were to attack it, the latter would turn South Korea into a “sea of fire”, it will be near impossible for the US to make the case that an Iranian bomb is too dangerous for the US to tolerate while at the same time having to accept the reality of a nuclear-armed DPRK. Despite Bush’s bluster that he will not tolerate the DPRK’s nuclear programme, there is not a thing that the US can do about it. All this has significant bearing on the US policy of blackmail and intimidation. In the words of Gideon Rachman: “… if North Korea gets away with it, Iran is likely to draw some conclusions that are very unwelcome to the US. The first lesson is that if a country can only get across the nuclear finishing line, it becomes much less vulnerable to military strikes. The second is that the Bush administration’s talk of its implacable determination to prevent the spread of WMD to dangerous regimes is just that – talk” (Financial Times 10 October 2006).

[4] Last, but not least, is the question of who possesses nuclear weapons and which class has control over them. We are firmly of the opinion that weapons, including nuclear weapons, in the hands of the proletariat are a source of stability and an instrument for peace. Had the erstwhile socialist Soviet Union not developed its own nuclear weapons to end US monopoly in this area and thus counter US nuclear blackmail, Hiroshima and Nagasaki would not have been the only two cities to have been incinerated. On the contrary, they would have merely been a prelude to further such attacks on other places, especially in the USSR and the People’s Republic of China. In fact, the use of atomic weapons over Japan was totally unnecessary to secure Japan’s surrender as the latter was ready to surrender in any case. These deadly weapons were used by way of intimidating the Soviet Union and letting her know what awaited her if she stood in the way of US imperialism’s plans for world domination. The successful detonation of the Soviet atom bomb in 1949, simultaneously with the triumph of the Chinese Revolution, put paid to US plans and shook imperialism to its very foundations. If the Cold War between the imperialist and socialist camps remained just that – cold war – it was in no small measure due to the fact that members of the socialist community of nations, particularly the Soviet Union, with their possession of formidable armoury, including nuclear armoury, presented an insuperable obstacle to US imperialist plans of aggression against them. Only charlatans, Christian socialists or bourgeois pacifists can deny this truth.

There was a time, not so long ago, when this fact was treated as an aphorism by progressive humanity everywhere and is treated so even today. Only sections of the communist movement, thanks to the ravages of Khrushchevite revisionism, have gone back on this, as on many another, generally known truths. The Communist Party of China (CPC) complained bitterly and quite correctly attacked the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which the Soviet revisionist leadership concluded with the US and Britain in order to prevent the People’s Republic of China from acquiring nuclear weapons, which she needed to counter US aggression, threats and intimidation. Today, forgetting all this, the Chinese leadership stoops to condemning the DPRK for daring to acquire nuclear weapons with a zeal worthy of a better cause!

CPI(M)’s stance

One of the largest non-ruling communist parties of the world, namely, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has also come down on the side of those condemning the DPRK. Its weekly organ, People’s Democracy, in a meandering, contradictory and self-annihilatory editorial, each assertion and each paragraph of which is annihilated by the succeeding argument and paragraph, calls the test conducted by the DPRK “an unfortunate act”, which has “set back the possibilities of resuming the six nation talks … to resolve the issues concerning the Korean Peninsula” and created “… another obstacle which complicates a move towards a nuclear weapon-free world”. There is not a single attempt made by the writer of this editorial to furnish any proof of the bold, not to say ignorant, assertions he makes. It will not require great mental exertion on our part to refute these assertions. However, there is no need for us to do that, for the writer of this editorial himself comes to our rescue in a remarkable act of self refutation and self-annihilation. And this is how he performs this feat.

“While deploring the destabilising act”, he says, “it is important to understand the context and background which led North Korea to take this step”. The writer then goes on to list a long line of crimes, threats and intimidation perpetrated by US imperialism against the Korean people, the DPRK especially. Notable among these are: the US war of aggression against Korea; the constant threats and acts of intimidation ever since then; the stationing of 40,000 US troops with nuclear weapons in South Korea; regular joint military exercises with South Korea; the unilateral annulment by the US of the 1994 Agreed Framework Accord with the DPRK; the characterisation by the US administration of the DPRK as a part of the “axis of evil” and the bellicose “…threats … issued by the Bush administration” – in view of which the DPRK leadership decided to arm the country with nuclear weapons as the only safeguard against US aggression. Let the writer of this editorial speak: “The DPRK government has stated that it is arming itself with the nuclear deterrent to protect its national sovereignty and to possess a ‘powerful self-reliant defence capability’. The United States is singularly responsible for creating this deep sense of insecurity for North Korea which has directly experienced the savagery of the American war machine during the Korean War that led to the division of the Korean peninsula”.

In view of his own above arguments, it is clear that the earlier assertions of the editorial writer are totally groundless, that it is not the DPRK’s nuclear bomb, but the US presence on the Korean Peninsula and its constant threats and intimidation directed at the DPRK, which are the sole cause of instability on the Korean Peninsula; that the DPRK bomb by creating a balance of terror is contributing to introducing stability in that part of the world, just as Soviet nuclear weapons did on a world scale more than 50 years ago. No one in there right mind, and certainly no progressive, let along a communist, would have condemned the successful Soviet atomic test in 1949 as a “destabilising act” or as an “obstacle … towards a nuclear-weapon-free world”. That being the case, why condemn the tiny but gallant DPRK for taking the steps necessary for its defence and national survival?

Having uttered the absurdity that the DPRK test is an “obstacle” to the achievement of a “nuclear-free world”, the editorial writer, either forgetting what he had just written, or taking fright at his own renegade assertions, or being pricked by a twinge of communist conscience, goes on to stage the following somersault in complete refutation of his own assertions in the paragraph immediately preceding it: “The nuclear ‘haves’ imposed an unequal order on the world for the last four decades. It is this flawed and iniquitous arrangement which has led to the collapse of ‘non-proliferation’. Further, US imperialism’s aggressiveness as is currently being seen in the continued military occupation of Iraq and its declaration of some countries including Iran and North Korea as constituting an ‘axis of evil’ is forcing many countries to take a position that the only way to protect themselves from unilateral US aggression is by acquiring nuclear weapons. This is creating a situation where ‘non-proliferation’ is simply becoming history. US imperialism is thus creating a world of more nuclear weapons and more nuclear powers. The only way to stop this growing menace is to move to a nuclear-weapon-free world. There is no other way” (People’s Democracy, 9-15 October 2006).

Thus, it turns out after all, that it is the “flawed and iniquitous” regime under the NPT and US threats and aggression which have led to the “collapse of ‘non-proliferation'” and “forcing many countries” to acquire nuclear weapons as ” .. the only way to protect themselves from unilateral US aggression”; that it is US imperialism, which is creating “…a world of more nuclear weapons and more nuclear powers”; and, that “the only way to stop this menace is to move to a nuclear-weapon-free world” – to work for universal and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament. And this is correct. Our hearty congratulations to the writer of the editorial for coming to these sound conclusions, even if after aimless forays into the world of groundless and meandering assertions.

As for the “possibilities of resuming six-nation talks”, the DPRK test, far from setting them back, has prepared firm ground for resuming them, for imperialism respects strength, power and force – not reason, justice and equity. By giving proof of its strength through the test, the DPRK will force US imperialism to sit and negotiate with it. Let no one harbour doubts on this score.

Our stance

For our part, we send our heartfelt congratulations to the peace-loving people of the DPRK, the Korean People’s army, the Workers’ Party of Korea and their undisputed leader Comrade Kim Jong Il, on the occasion of the successful nuclear test conducted by the Korean scientific community on 9 October 2006.

The imperialist media have been sarcastically quoting the press release of the Korean Central News Agency, which stated that the test “will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the area around it”. However, sarcasm and puerile ‘logic’ aside, this statement of the KCNA does in fact reflect reality. Perhaps the idea that something so potentially violent and destructive as the development of nuclear military capabilities can be a force for peace is too much of a paradox for the simple-minded bourgeois hacks who earn their living by slandering socialist Korea.

We are of the view that humanity must get rid of nuclear weapons. But we are also firmly of the view that nuclear disarmament must be universal and non-discriminatory. Imperialism, in particular US imperialism, while arming itself to the teeth with the latest nuclear technology, as well as with non-nuclear weapons, is bent upon disarming all other people for the sole purpose of dominating and subjugating them. In view of this, we are firmly of the opinion that the Korean and other peoples have every right to acquire nuclear capabilities, for civil as well as military purposes, in order that the nuclear threat may not be used by the US and other imperialist countries to bully them.

If the imperialists do not want independent countries to develop nuclear weapons, they should stop threatening those countries and enter into comprehensive negotiations on multilateral disarmament. Let the imperialist bandits lay down their weapons if they want to see genuine disarmament. George W Bush, condemning the DPRK’s nuclear test, had the temerity to “reaffirm” his “commitment to a nuclear-free Korean peninsula”! This from the president of a state that maintains 37,000 troops, a substantial stock of nuclear warheads and a nuclear submarine base in south Korea!

It is US imperialism and its allies that have actually used nuclear weapons. It is they who have unleashed horrendous destruction on whole cities. It is they who have developed so-called tactical nuclear warheads and have used radioactive weaponry. It is the imperialist powers that have refused to rule out first use of nuclear weapons.

While arming itself to the teeth, imperialism wishes to disarm people everywhere. The revolutionary proletariat and the oppressed people can only respond in one way – by arming to confront imperialism. It fills us with joy and confidence that the DPRK is playing such an honourable and leading role, and we express our wholehearted support.

Let the imperialist hyenas and their lackeys (including not a few in the ‘left’ movement in Britain) howl with impotent rage that the DPRK is now capable of deterring the real imperialist nuclear threat. Their rage means nothing to the masses of the world suffering under the yoke of imperialism; these masses long for freedom, for independence, for an end to imperialist domination. For these masses, the DPRK’s successful nuclear test is a great victory.

Long live the Workers’ Party of Korea!

Long live socialist Korea!