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The National Campaign to End the Korean War Renews Call for Peace, Not Sanctions

It has been announced that North Korea (DPRK) has successfully launched a satellite into orbit on December 12, 2012 and reports from South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. military confirm this.  The launch seems to have been timed for the first-year anniversary of the December 2011 passing of Kim Jong Il, the former leader and father of current leader Kim Jong Un, and as part of the centennial celebration of founding leader Kim Il Sung.

Although North Korea appears to have followed protocol, as specified in international accords, for launching objects into space, some UN Security Council members view the satellite launch as part of North Korea’s plan to expand its missile technology and have called for fortified sanctions against the country.

However, this launch has also taken place within the context of growing military activity on the part of the United States and allies in the region, with joint war exercises at increased levels in 2012, South Korea building longer range ballistic missiles and developing its own satellite launch capability; Japan increasing its militarization, and the United States opening more military bases in the Pacific region, as part of its plan for America’s “Pacific Century.

The potential for war, even accidental war, is at one of its highest levels in a decade.  The choice is clear: we can either build on overtures for peace and work to end the state of war on the Korean peninsula, or return to a Cold War arms race.

As Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, recently wrote in an article on CNN.com,  "So the lessons are: Don't underestimate North Korea. Don't count on this regime disappearing anytime soon. But don't panic. Don't start an arms race that undermines your greater strategic stability goals. We need to take a deep breath and work with our allies to get North Korea back to the bargaining table and off the test ranges." 

Next year is the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice, which temporarily halted active combat, but did not end the Korean War.  It is time to stop military escalation and bring peace to Korea and the Pacific region.

Representing a U.S.-based coalition of Korean American community, faith-based, veterans’, and human rights groups, the National Campaign to End the Korean War calls on President Obama to secure a lasting peace.  The United States must engage with North Korea by restarting multilateral (Six Party) and bilateral talks.  Dialogue is the first step to peace.