Gas Mask Stunt Stokes Fears of North Korea

SEOUL, South Korea - Last November the U.S. Command distributed 14,000 gas masks to dependents of U.S. soldiers and embassy staff here. The antic had the intended result; it caused a wave of concern over what North Korea was "planning." The deceit came 30 days after new, high-resolution satellite photos proved that the North's missile-launch site is minuscule and shabby. Last April the country's food crisis was said to "cast doubt on its ability to feed and arm its 1.2-million-member military." Two million people may have starved to death over the last 5 years. The Pentagon, weapons makers, the White House and the Department of State promote fear of North Korea to help promote the missile defense program.

U.S. trading partners Italy, Russia, France, Japan, China and Britain scoff at U.S. fear mongering, and are all working to open diplomatic relations. French President Chirac says U.S. talk of the North's missile threat "isn't persuasive."

- Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Mar./Apr., 2000; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dec. 26; New York Times, Jan. 5, 2000; Dec. 17, 15 & 4; Oct. 12; June 3; April 14, 1999.