Stratcom is the Main Threat to Peace on the Korea Peninsula

After the September 11 attacks, by the Bush administration’s decision, the USSTRATCOM began to develop a close relationship with the Korean Peninsula. On December 31, 2001, Bush submitted the Nuclear Posture Review, which defined Russia, China, and the so-called “rogue states”–North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya–as potential targets of pre-emptive nuclear strikes. Moreover, North Korea and Iraq, unlike the other three nations, were singled out as “chronic military concerns.” Since Iraq is under US occupation, only North Korea remains as a “chronic military concern.”

Moreover, based on the NPR, the Bush administration has formulated a nuclear war strategy plan with North Korea and Iran as the main targets, thereby making the Korean Peninsula the most dangerous region in the world, with the US nuclear weapons playing a part in military strategy.

This nuclear war plan is called CONPLAN 8022, which combines five regional theatres into a single unit and articulates the idea of a global strike, where by the US can strike at any region within one hour.

CONPLAN 8022 was completed in November 2003, and was approved by former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld in June 2004. This plan includes Pinpoint attack, destruction of underground military facilities, cyberwarfare to demobilize anti-missile systems and air defense, and the use of Special Operational Forces to seize North Korea’s nuclear facilities and weapons.

It can’t be denied that CONPLAN 8022 may have been implemented in 2003, when it was formulated, and the Korean peninsula was immersed in a military crisis atmosphere.

Bush also strengthened the OPLANS of the USPACOM, ROK-US Combined Forces Command (CFC)/United Nations Command (UNC). These included PACOM, CFC, UNC OPLANS 5026, 5028, 5029, 5030, in addition to 5027. OPLAN 5027 was developed beginning in 1974, but OPLAN 5026 and 5029 were developed at the same time as CONPLAN 8022, and have similar operational purposes and complementary characteristics.

OPLAN 5027 also is based on the use of nuclear weapons. The pre-emptive strike strategy appeared after OPLAN 5027-98. OPLAN 5027-04 includes MD, while OPLAN 5027-06 includes pre-emptive strike against North Korea’s nuclear missile facilities.

During the 25th ROK-US Military Committee Meeting (November 2003), it was agreed that CONPLAN 5029 would develop OPLAN 5029, but it was not established due to the ROK government’s opposition. Under US pressure, however, in June 2005 defense ministers agreed to push OPLAN 5029, which is expected to be completed by 2008. OPLAN 5029 violates international law because it is very aggressive. It envisions military intervention during turmoil in North Korea, and even in times of natural disasters. The main purpose of OPLAN 5029 is to allow the US, not South Korea, take over and seize North Korea’s nuclear facilities, weapons, and materials.

As requested by the US, OPLAN 5026 was agreed upon during the ROK-US Security Consultative Meeting(SCM) in December 2002 and was completed in July 2003. It stipulates pinpoint attacks on 700 targets including nuclears biological, and chemical (NBC) facilities and command and control facilities. It also includes a counter plan against North Korea’s long-range artillery. Thus OPLAN 5026 functions as a supplement to OPLAN 5027 and 5029, and CONPLAN 8022.

If a war breaks out in Korea, USSTRATCOM, with strengthened authorities, increased responsibilities, and organic units, is likely to take the commanding lead. USSTRATCOM’s role has expanded to nuclear and conventional war, space, global strike, missile defense, cyberwarfare, and Combating WMD. To perform this role, USSTRATCOM subordinated USSPACECOM in October 1, 2002, and organized Air Combat Command, USPACFLTCOM, USATLANTFLTCOM. Intelligence reports including IMINT and SIGINT collected from the Korean peninsula and the rest of Northeast Asia are reported to the USSTRATCOM.

“A Framework for Peace and Security in Korea and Northeast Asia,” formulated by the Atlantic Council Working Group in April 2007, cites North Korea’s fear of a potential US attack as one of the reasons why the North developed nuclear weapons, the fear of a potential US attack.

This Working Group’s suggestion is valid, considering the development of the crisis at the time. Whenever Bush exerted pressure on North Korea, by including North Korea as a preemptive strike target in the NPR, including it in the “axis of evil”, expanding the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) that is anti-North Korea blockade policy, North Korea responded in defense of its system. For example, in response to the “axis of evil” label, it considered it as a declaration of war against NK. In response to being targeted for a preemptive under NPR, it stated that the Agreed Framework would have to be reevaluated completely. It claimed that the PSI is another example of the US’s hostle policy, which aims to isolate and strangle North Korea.

Thus when the US occupied Iraq and began to talk about a military crisis in Korea, in October 2003, North Korea announced that it had completed the reprocessing of nuclear materials and that it was strengthening its nuclear deterrence capability as a self-defense measure. This turn of events shows that North Korea decided to develop nuclear weapons US military policies such as the preemptive strike plan and CONPLAN 8022.

The Bush administration is capable of pressuring North Korea militarily, more than any other previous administration, because of the ROK-US Alliance, which came into being based on the Mutual Defense Treaty and Agreed Minutes (November 1954). With the establishment of the alliance, South Korea became dependent on the US in political, military, economic, state, reunification matters, in all matters. In military matters. ROK forces lost wartime military operational control authority, (OPCON), to US Forces in Korea. This means that South Korea has limited power over military administration and is dependent on the US in areas such as military strategy and weapons systems.

After the Cold War, as the US became the only superpower and as South Korea surpassed North Korea in military capabilities, the ROK-US alliance’s stance against North Korea became more apparent. In June 1994, the Clinton administration contemplated a nuclear strike against NK, but gave up after computer simulations showed that vast destruction in South Korea and even Japan world result.

The aggressive nature of ROK-US alliance has heightened during the Bush administration. The US and South Korean authorities are thinking of a new ROK-US alliance based on strengthening their postures against North Korea, as well as expanding operations to ‘out of area’, beyond the Korean peninsula.

First, this involved relocating of US forces from the forward deployment near the DMZ to the rear, out of range of North Korea’s long-lange artillery, removing the abstacles to launching a preemptive strike, and installing MD. To implement CONPLAN 8022, the US to deploy Aegis destroyers and submarines carrying Trident missiles, equipped with the most advanced utra-sophisticated conventional warheads, on the high seas near the Korean peninsula.

Moreover the policy of Strategic Flexibility was agreed on, allowing ‘out of area’ operations beyond the Korea peninsula, which was prohibited before January 2006. Therefore, US Forces in Korea, without consultation or agreement by the ROK government, have acquired the potential to intervene in a conflict in the Taiwan strait or any other crisis region in the world.

The new alliance’s call for ‘out of area’ operations beyond Korea suggests a call for a regional alliance. The current Asia-Pacific alliance system is based on bilateral alliances such as the US-Japan, US-Australia, US-Korea, and Japan-Australia alliances. The US is using the USPACOM’s Theater Security Cooperation Plan to develop bilateral alliances into an Asia Pacific regional military alliance.

On November 18, 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and then-President Roh Moo Hyun agreed to expand the ROK-US alliance into a global alliance and agreed to explore South Korea’s participation in NATO and the Global Partnership program, which suggests the US ambition of elevating the Asia- Pacific alliance into a global military alliance.

The US government reportedly is planning to establish the US-led Pan- Asia Pacific Security Union. The first step toward this is to include South Korea and Japan in PAPSU, and the South Korea-USA Summit Talk in April will be the beginning of this first step. The second step is to include Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand in PAPSU. The plan to establish PAPSU clearly shows the US government¡s intention to build a multilateral security alliance in the Asia-Pacific region.

The formation of a US-led Asia-Pacific alliance and a globel alliance will be facilitated by US-led combined exercises such as the Rim of the Pacific exercise which involves Asia Pacific alliance nations and NATO, and the Theater Security Cooperation Plan, RF-A/N, in which the US’s Asia-Pacific allies and NATO countries take part.

Countering this trend, China and Russia are increasing their military cooperation and are engaged in combined exercises such as landing on the Korean peninsula. They are continuously engaged in combined exercises through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. In August 2007, SCO, in order to counter NATO’s eastward expansion, held large-scale combined exercises, using advanced conventional weapons, in Xinjang, China and Chelyabinsk, Russia, in the Eurasian heartland. This suggests the US’s global alliance building may lead to a new Cold War.

One of the ways to disable USSTRATCOM’s CONPLAN 8022 is to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula. For the 55 years since the Korean War ended with the signing of the armistice agreement, the Korean peninsula has been experienced continuous military confrontation and local conflicts, and has been exposed to the constant danger that these could escalate into all-out war.

The only way to ensure peace on the Korean peninsula is to conclude a peace agreement and end the Korean War legally and to demilitarize to the level where the two sides would not be able to engage in aggressive all-out war. Moreover, during this process the USFK must be withdrawn. The USFK are the principal offender in the military crises that destabilize the Korean peninsula. Therefore, unless and until the USFK are completely and permanently withdrawn from South Korea, it will be impossible to establish peace on the Korean peninsula. Also, withdrawal of the USFK is an obligation stipulated in article 60 of the armistice agreement.

In the Joint Declaration resulting from the 6-Party Talks in Beijing, it was agreed that holding a forum on the establishment of a peace structure for the Korea peninsula greatly increases the chances for concluding a peace agreement. If a peace agreement for the Korean peninsula is concluded, the withdrawal of the USFK is realized, and peace is established on the Korean peninsula, this will be a major contribution to the attainment of peace in the Northeast Asian region as well.

SPARK (Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea) is now working with other civic organizations to realize the conclusion of a Korean peninsula peace agreement and the withdrawal of the USFK. SPARK is also struggling to prevent the reinforcement of the South Korean-US military alliance, since it is incompatible with a peace agreement and withdrawal of US troops.

Keynote speech by Mr. KO YOUNG-DAE, SPARK co-representative at Global Network conference held in Omaha, Nebraska on April 12, 2008

KO YOUNG-DAE works with Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea.