‘Sanctions are weapons against population, not leadership’

‘Sanctions are weapons against population, not leadership’
Sanctions should be categorized as a kind of war crime: they are weapons against the population of the country that they are aimed at - the Korean people will suffer from the new UN sanctions, says Richard Becker, regional director of the anti-war ANSWER Coalition.

Last week the UN Security Council (UNSC) unanimously approved new sanctions on North Korea in an attempt to pressure the DPRK over its nuclear and missile tests. It is the seventh round of sanctions in 11 years. 

They target and restrict North Korean exports to other UN member states in key industries such as metals and food. The UNSC also banned new joint ventures with North Korean entities or individuals.

During the emergency meeting of the Council US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley called Pyongyang’s latest missile launch “not only dangerous but reckless and irresponsible.”

“It showed that North Korea does not want to be part of a peaceful world. They have cast a dark shadow of conflict on all nations that strive for peace,” she said.

RT: What is your take on what the US ambassador to the UN said about the latest sanctions and this latest development?

Richard Becker: It is very unfortunate the UN Security Council has passed this resolution. It misplaces the blame for the tension on the Korean peninsula. Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, talks about reckless actions but every year, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans and tens of thousands of US troops participate in military maneuvers in Korea openly aimed at regime change in North Korea, the rehearsal for regime change. In 2002, in the State of the Union message, George W. Bush called Iran, Iraq and North Korea the axis of evil. And then, the next year invaded Iraq and destroyed that country. That is when North Korea put its nuclear weapons program into high gear. No one wants to see the spread of nuclear weapons in the world. But it is clear to anyone who is at all objective that North Korea’s nuclear program is meant as a deterrent. They know without a doubt, that if they were to launch a first strike that they would be annihilated by the far-far greater nuclear power of the US.

RT: Do you think that these sanctions as harsh as they are, incomparable to previous ones, are going to maybe halt the program in the North or actually intensify it?

RB: If we base it at all on history and we don’t have anything else to go by, it is not going to deter North Korea from its nuclear weapons program. It views the nuclear weapons program as really the sole deterrent to a massive attack by the US and South Korea aimed at what the US itself calls “the decapitation strategy” that is cutting of the head of the leadership.

RT: Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya said after the vote at the Council: “We hope in the sincerity of the assurances given by the US secretary of state that the US is not aiming to overthrow the current North Korean regime or for the forceful unification of the Korean peninsula or a military intervention in the country. But it raises concerns that a point in the resolution proposed by us to uphold that position was not supported by the authors of the resolution,”|. What do you make of what the Russia's UN ambassador said about foreign intervention in North Korea and the fact the additional point to the resolution proposed by Russia was not supported by the US?

RB: Because the US aim is regime change. If we go back again to the George W. Bush administration, one of its top officials, supposedly in charge of disarmament, John Bolton, when asked what the US policy on North Korea was, replied “No North Korea” and that has been a fixed objective of US policy in regard to North Korea – it has been regime change. And the fact that they would talk openly about a decapitation strategy makes it crystal clear to anybody who is paying attention.

RT: How much will these sanctions impact on North Korean citizens as opposed to weakening the regime?

RB: Probably, quite negatively. We really view the way sanctions are used and sanctions themselves in the modern era - should be categorized as a kind of war crime. When they killed a million people in Iraq, I visited Iraq when the sanctions were in place: it was a blockade, it caused the most ghastly suffering in the country. Sanctions are weapons against the population of the country that they are aimed at. There is no questioning the excuses given that it is aimed at the leadership. But it is not the leadership, it is the people as a whole who suffer from sanctions, and I think the Korean people will suffer from these sanctions.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.