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President Moon’s visit – a lost opportunity

President Moon’s visit – a lost opportunity

Whilst we welcome President Moon Jae-in’s recent visit to New Zealand we are disappointed that the Government has failed to make full use of the opportunity to promote peace on the Korean peninsula and between the United States and the DPRK (North Korea).

It is well known that Moon Jae-in faces considerable opposition from South Korean conservatives and the US establishment in his quest for détente on the peninsula and encouraging the US to live in peace with North Korea. He needs the support of peace-loving peoples and the NZ government had the opportunity to express such support during his visit. More than words were called for. It seems that the opportunity was squandered.

North Korea has developed a nuclear deterrent as a defence against the threat from the United States and will not relinquish that until the danger is removed. How that might be done is a matter for negotiations between the US and the DPRK. The Singapore Summit was a promising start but no more than that.

Sanctions have been long regarded by the US government as an important weapon in its armoury by which it can inflict pain and suffering on foreign countries and their people at little cost and no danger to itself.

Sanctions are ineffective in compelling countries to succumb to US demands but the damage they wreak is substantial. Amongst other things sanctions produce malnutrition and disease which particularly effects the vulnerable, such as the elderly and children. In North Korea some 40 percent of the population suffer distress attributable to sanctions and accompanying measures.

Sanctions have come to be a touchstone in the current negotiations between the US and the DPRK. North Korea will not believe assurances of peace whilst America conducts economic warfare – sanctions- against it. The continuation of sanctions therefore means that the peace process will remain in impasse.

It is very regrettable that the NZ government has been reported as telling President Moon that it ‘would not be receptive to any calls to ease sanctions’ and that ‘sanctions would continue to be essential until Pyongyang completely abandons its nuclear program’.

Last month Moon Jae-in travelled to Europe hoping to get support for the easing of sanctions but was rebuffed by the leaders of Britain and France. It is ironic that New Zealand has joined the ranks of these nuclear powers in blocking movement towards peace.

Sanctions are not merely a cowardly and inhumane weapon, and one which many consider a war crime. In the present context they also ensure that threat of war on and against the Korean peninsula will continue. It is understandable that some, such as the American military-industrial complex, will welcome this but it is distressing that a government led by Labour party’s Jacinda Ardern follows the same path.

Tim Beal

Chairman

Peter Wilson

Secretary

NZ DPRK Society

6 December 2018.


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