(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/03/north-korea-kim-jong-il-jong-un.gif)The U.S. and North Korea announced yesterday that a breakthrough had been reached. North Korea will suspend its uranium enrichment program, stop testing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles and allow inspectors to check out its nuclear sites. In return, the U.S. will provide 240,000 metric tons of food aid annually. It sounds like a good deal, but will it help save a teetering regime with a human rights record comparable only to Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia?
The major concern is that the food aid will be diverted to the regime and the military instead of its starving population and then violate its agreements.
“The destitute North Korean economy needs foreign aid to avoid collapse. North Korea follows a now clear cycle of ostentatiously dangerous conduct followed by a conciliatory gesture that brings its neighbors and the U.S. rushing to the negotiating table, bearing goodies,” writes Christian Whiton, a former deputy special envoy for human rights in North Korea.
Under Kim Jong-Il, North Korea violated several past “breakthrough” agreements. It should be assumed that Kim Jong-Un will follow the same strategy because it worked. There is already uncertainty over whether the regime has agreed to suspend its plutonium reprocessing program that is responsible for at least two nuclear tests. Its announcement only referred to uranium. A senior U.S. official said the administration is confident that the plutonium program is also covered under the deal.
The U.S. says it will closely supervise the delivery of the food aid. It will send meals and products designed for pregnant women and children instead of rice and grains. It is hoped that the first shipment will arrive in 6 to 8 weeks. One official said that the operation will be the “most comprehensively monitored and managed program” devised yet.
It is obviously a good thing if the U.S. can prevent mass starvation among the North Korean population, especially if the recipients understand that it came from its so-called enemies. However, the regime’s giving in to U.S. demands for strict regulations over the food aid deliveries and willingness to suspend its nuclear activities is also a sign of weakness that must be exploited.
The U.S. must not accept the status quo with North Korea and turn a blind eye to the horrors that the regime puts its people through or the other ways it threatens the U.S. It still has 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons and about 5,000 tons of biological weapons, with a dozen production facilities for the former and 20 for the latter. Some of these weapons are tested on innocent prisoners, including children, the disabled and the mentally-handicapped.
There are at least 200,000 political prisoners living in North Korea’s concentration camps, though it can be argued that almost every North Korean is a prisoner. The former chief of security at Camp 22, Kwon Hyok, oversaw the torturing and murdering of its 50,000 residents. Now freed from the brainwashing the regime captured his mind with, he talks about the evils he took part in.
Hyok describes how he watched an entire family enter a gas chamber as scientists observed their painful deaths. “The parents were vomiting and dying, but til the very last moment, they tried to save [the] kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing,” he said. He admits that he felt no sympathy for his victims. He believed they were enemies of the country and responsible for all its ills.
A former prisoner named Soon Ok-lee tells a story of how a guard gave him a bag of cabbage and instructed him to find 50 healthy women at his camp. He watched as those he selected died in agony over 20 minutes. Kim Hye Sook was imprisoned at age 13 and escaped at age 41. She likewise speaks of mothers killing and eating their children in order to survive, use of child slave labor and executions.
A former special forces commando named Im Chun-yong confirms that chemical and biological weapons are tested on children and the disabled at 5 locations at least. He says that his commander was forced to hand over his 12-year-old daughter who was mentally-handicapped, never to see her again. A U.N. official named Kim Sang-hun has interviewed hundreds of North Koreans who managed to escape. “Human experimentation is a widespread practice,” he asserts.
The U.S. role in rescuing North Korea’s population cannot stop here. The aid will only alleviate the famine to a limited degree. There are plenty of stories of cannibalism. In 2003, one refugee explained, “If a funeral takes place during the day and the burial is performed that evening, the grave may be dug open and the body stolen before morning.”
It would be a mistake to think that this agreement means North Korea doesn’t pose a threat to the West. It is armed to the teeth and is a paradise for terrorists, rogue states and criminals looking to buy weapons or lethal operatives on the black market. The regime is allied to Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Burma and any other anti-American customer. Recently, Kim Jong-Un visited the artillery station that fired on a South Korean island in 2010. He saluted those who “turned Yeonpyeong Island in flames.”
The North Korean population is increasingly challenging the regime, and the information blockade that has sustained the cult-like atmosphere is crumbling. The U.S. must use its leverage to alleviate the population’s oppression as much as possible.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.