Veterans For Peace, a major peace organization of veterans in the U.S., welcomed the announcement on Tuesday, August 25th, of an inter-Korean agreement to de-escalate the current military tensions in Korea.
Among the items agreed to, the South agreed to stop its anti-North propaganda broadcasts in the DMZ, while the North agreed to end its “semi-state of war.” They also agreed to hold a government-to-government talk in Seoul or Pyongyang in the near future, to improve the South-North relations.
This is a good step toward easing the high military tensions at the heavily armed DMZ area. We wish them further success from the future talks, including an agreement to join the Mine Ban Treaty together to avoid further casualties from the antipersonnel landmine danger in Korea.
At the same time, we recognize that the U.S. is a key player in Korea, and urge the Obama administration to take its own steps to reduce the high military tensions in Korea, such as ending the ongoing joint war drills with South Korea, involving some 50,000 South Korean troops and 30,000 U.S. troops, which clearly pose security threats to North Korea. Such drills usually force North Korea to mobilize its troops for defense, raising military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
In reviewing the recent incidents that happened in Korea, we are very concerned that the U.S. and ROK (South Korea) may have been provoking the DPRK (North Korea) government, with various accusations against the North, without any clear evidence.
For an example, on Aug. 4, 2015, there were three antipersonnel landmine explosions, injuring two ROK soldiers, inside the southern sector of the DMZ, which is controlled by the U.S. and ROK. In the hours after the blasts, the ROK officials told the media initially that “there was no possibility of North Korean involvement,” blaming the explosions on the heavy rains that moved the landmines. This kind of accidents happened before in the DMZ. However, on Aug. 10, the USFK Command issued a press release, which blamed North Korea for planting its landmines “along a known ROK patrol route in the southern half of the DMZ.” North Korea has denied the charge as “a ridiculous farce.” If it was meant for a secret operation, why would the North use its own landmines, instead of using U.S.-made landmines?
A member of VFP-Korea Peace Campaign project, Michael Bassett, Staff Sergeant (ret.), comments on the incident as follows: “Having patrolled those same trails for years as a recon team leader, I find it impossible to believe that KPA (North Korean) soldiers could walk 450 meters south across the military demarcation fence with AP mines in hand, and not get blown up or captured on camera.”
Thus, we urge all VFP members and American people to remain skeptical about the mainstream media’s reports on Korea and to call on the White House and Congress to take steps to reduce military tensions in Korea, including entering talks with North Korea, and to support H. Res. 384, which is co-sponsored by three remaining veterans of the Korean War in the Congress, calling for a formal end to the Korean War.
War is not the solution; ending the lingering Korean War with a peace treaty is the right answer.