Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have announced plans to host an international conference about North Korea.
The meeting to be held in Vancouver on January 16 is intended to maintain pressure on the Asian nation to give up its nuclear weapons program.
The typical narrative about North Korea has been that it is a rogue state that poses a threat to world peace.
According to Vancouver antiwar activist Alison Bodine, it is not surprising that many people seem to accept that view.
“The U.S. and Canada have demonized North Korea so much, I think, it’s difficult for people to understand what’s happening,” Bodine told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview Wednesday (December 20).
Bodine spoke on behalf of the Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), a group that holds regular rallies against U.S.-led or –backed military actions in Iraq, Syria, and Libya.
MAWO has also protested the Saudi Arabian-led military intervention in Yemen. The group has likewise warned against U.S. interference in North Korea and Venezuela.
Bodine questioned how conferences like the one to be co-hosted by Freeland and Tillerson in Vancouver next year will contribute to the cause of world peace.
“What kind of conference can he held here in Vancouver, Canada about North Korea when the U.S. has 35,000 troops in South Korea or when they have aircraft carriers circling around North Korea?” Bodine asked.
Bodine maintained that based on history and current events, it is actually the U.S. and its allies that are “the threat to world peace”.
She cited the examples of Iraq, Syria, and Libya, “countries that have been completely devastated” because of American interference.
Referring to the Vancouver conference, Bodine said: “This is just really part of this continued campaign to convince people of the world that North Korea is a problem when in fact the U.S. government is the most nuclear armed country in the world by far.”
According to the Switzerland-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), nine countries have nuclear arsenals with around 15,000 warheads.
Based on ICAN’s figures, the U.S. and Russia account for most of these warheads, totaling 13,800.
The other countries on ICAN’s list are the U.K., France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea.
According to ICAN, North Korea has the smallest arsenal, which “probably comprises fewer than 10 warheads”.
Bodine asserted that peace can be advanced if American troops pull out of South Korea, and international sanctions against North Korea are lifted.
North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950. The conflict ended in 1953 with an armistice, which is not a peace treaty, meaning the two countries are still technically at war.
The U.S. and Canada fought alongside South Korea in the Korean War.
The U.S. maintains a big military presence in South Korea. The Seventh Fleet, which the largest of deployed U.S. Navy forces, is based in neighbouring Japan.
“North Korea is an independent country,” Bodine said. “It has the right to self-determination, [and] to develop its science and technology without pressure from the U.S. government and their allies.”
Bodine said that as far as MAWO is concerned, the issue is that North Korea is a country that is “under tremendous amount of pressure from the United States”.
“Everything that they [North Korea] are doing is a defensive action and response to these direct military threats and sanctions,” Bodine said.