U.S. Using Food as Weapon Against North Korea

WASHINGTON -- North Korea's severe and lengthy food shortage has now been called one of the great famines of the 20th century and may have caused two million deaths. "We now know that more than 10 percent of the population starved to death," says Andrew Natsios, a researcher for the U.S. Institute of Peace. The U.S. promised last May to provide more aid. The pledge of 200,000 tons of food and seed potatoes came one week after North Korea agreed to allow inspections of a site long claimed by U.S. officials to involve secret nuclear weapons development. The site has turned out to be empty. The country still needs more food.

Criticism of the food relief effort is being directed at Japan, South Korea and the White House by U.S. Rep. Tony Hall (D-OH). "We shouldn't wait for them," he said of the allies in 1997. "In my opinion, they are using food as a weapon. We should step up and lead." But this August, according to Rep. Hall, the U.S. threatened to end its famine relief if a test missile is fired. Japan and S. Korea have made similar threats.

For years the U.S. State Department has hyped fears over alleged North Korean H-bomb and missile development. The ballyhooed missile test would not violate any international treaty or agreement with the United States. The fear mongering over the North's nuclear program continues without any evidence that the country has even one nuclear weapon. None has emerged since Time declared Jan. 10, 1994 that "the U.S. has no hard evidence that Pyongyang's elaborate nuclear facilities have produced any bombs."

--New York Times, Aug. 26, 20, 5 & May 28, 1999, March 3, 1998;
St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 23, 1999.