New York (GPA) – North Korea called for global denuclearization on Monday, but all the US media is reporting is Pyongyang’s warning of the potential for nuclear war.
The western media exploded in panic on Tuesday morning following an address to the UN by Kim In Ryong, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) deputy ambassador in New York. Despite Kim delivering a completely rational message, if you looked at western headlines Tuesday morning, you’d think the world was on fire. This was due to almost every headline being based on one out of context quote from Kim.
Outlets including Fox News, Bloomberg, Newsweek, The Guardian, and The Washington Post, all ran stories on Tuesday morning warning of an impending nuclear war and making it seem like the DPRK is the nation that wants it. Other fear mongering articles accompanied these headlines such as a piece from The Los Angeles Times, titled “Can North Korea’s missiles deliver an atomic weapon to the U.S. mainland? Maybe.”
The line that threw the fear machine into overdrive came when Kim warned about the US antagonism on the Korean Peninsula, saying the situation “has reached the touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment.” The problem with isolating this line and crafting it into every headline in the US is that it leaves out crucial context and omits the DPRK’s overall position on nuclear weapons.
The actual statement from the DPRK as a whole provided much more context for their warning of a possible war and the role of nuclear weapons as geopolitical tools.
Perhaps the DPRK’s warning should be taken as part of Kim’s comments as a whole, which included lines like “The DPRK constantly supports the complete elimination of the nuclear weapons and efforts for the denuclearization of the entire world.”
A noble goal, no doubt, but Kim also spoke on the main reason why this goal is currently a dream “as long as [the] US, who constantly threatens and blackmails the DPRK with nuclear weapons, rejects the NBT [Nuclear ban treaty].” Kim also used the US position as clarification as to why the “DPRK is not in a position to accede to the [NBT].”
According to Kim, it would be foolish for the DPRK to give up their nuclear weapons after 70 years of US antagonism and the current period that has seen ”a nuclear arms race reminiscent of (the) Cold War era.”
Not only does the context of the broader statement help clarify what exactly the position of the DPRK is, but Kim was also shedding light on the historical context with his remarks on the NBT.
The NBT was a United Nations agreement negotiated earlier this year. At the time, the US (a country with thousands of nuclear weapons) said they could not abide by this comprehensive disarmament treaty, mainly due to the “international security” threats posed by countries such as North Korea (a country with maybe a dozen nuclear weapons).
Combine the facts surrounding the NBT with the “constant threats” to the DPRK from the US, and it’s easy to see why the small Asian nation won’t sign a disarmament deal until the global superpower does.
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.