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What Does ‘Denuclearization’ Mean in the Negotiations for an End to the Korean War?

Ending US occupation of South Korea

Left unsaid in most US reporting on this situation is also the historical basis for the US having those bases in South Korea. It’s not a matter of South Korea being a staunch ally of the US and having invited the US to put troops there and to construct bases there. South Korea has no choice or say in the matter. The US, since the original 1950 UN Security Council Resolution authorizing a UN force to combat the North, has been the designated leader of the UN expeditionary forces in South Korea. As such, the Pentagon has retained control over the South Korean military, and has a UN-sanctioned right to have troops occupying South Korean territory (with immunity from South Korean law). That’s why Trump was able to order the placing of highly controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile batteries in South Korea over the objections of both the South Korean people and the government of Moon Jae-in — missiles that would be of little or no use against any North Korean attack, but which actually threaten and target China, much like the anti-missile batteries that the US has installed in Eastern European countries which it continues to insist publicly are to defend against non-existent Iranian missiles, but which actually pose a deadly threat of a potential first strike against Russia. (The THAAD missile emplacements, as well as the major US bases in the South, would also make South Korea q prime target in any future armed conflict between the US and China or the US and Russia, something South Koreans are acutely aware of.)

A complication for the US is that if South Korea’s Moon and North Korea’s Kim, on their own, were to agree to sign a peace agreement, it would be difficult for the US to insist that a state of war still exists on the Korean peninsula. It would make a joke of the continued UN Security Council resolution that places the US military in charge of a UN-led security force there, and of any continuation of the US bases in South Korea.

Few Americans are aware of this, but there is a deep and fairly wide-spread resentment in South Korea, not just in the North, against the United States, which is widely seen as having installed and then backed, since the end of World War II, a series of brutal dictators in Seoul, and even of having signed off on the South Korean military’s slaughter of hundreds and perhaps as many as two thousand people following an uprising in the South Korean city of Gwanju against dictator and military coup leader Chun Doo-Hwan, in 1980.

US troops, who are immune from prosecution under South Korean law, are also widely resented there. Many South Koreans also resent their oountry’s being treated as a pawn in US relations with China and Russia. While there is a relatively small cohort of right wingers in South Korea who vehemently oppose any easing of relations with the Communist North, South Koreans I know in the US, like a majority of their compatriots in Korea, have been wildly excited by the recent rapprochment between the two long-divided halves of their nation.

story | by Dr. Radut