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“UN sanctions announced last August stepped up the pressure by removing the parts of prior sanctions that had attempted to avoid humanitarian consequences.” The Washington Post, July 20, 2018.
“Healthcare should not be used as a weapon!” Dr. Jennifer Furin, Harvard trained physician treating Tuberculosis patients for 28 years.
“Tuberculosis is the leading killer among infectious diseases in the world.” Brendan Varma, Spokesperson for the President of the 72 UN General Assembly, August 8, 2018.
The UN Security Council sanctions have imposed strangling economic warfare upon the DPRK from 2006 up to the present. It is becoming evident, now, that these UN Sanctions are encouraging a form of de facto biological warfare against the citizens of the DPRK. This is a criminal violation of international law for which the United Nations Security Council must immediately be held accountable. This attack on the people of North Korea is reaching proportions that may ultimately lead to a global pandemic of resistant strains of Tuberculosis, the most lethal form of the disease and most difficult to treat.
In a decision which has horrified humanitarian organizations worldwide, the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis has cut funding to North Korea.
“This will be a disaster that the global health community will pay for later,” stated Dr. Jennifer Furin, a Harvard trained doctor and researcher who has treated TB patients for more than two decades. “This is a politically created problem that will turn into a health catastrophe, not just for the people living in the DPRK, but for everybody.”
The closure of programs is likely to lead to ‘massive stock-outs of quality-assured TB drugs nationwide,’ wrote Harvard Medical School doctors in an open letter to the Global Fund, published in the Lancet. Such privation in the past has led to the rapid creation of drug-resistant TB strains, as doctors ration pills and patients take incomplete regimens.’”
Doctors throughout the world were shocked when the Global Fund announced in February that it would halt its TB funds to the DPRK from June 30.
The cuts would likely lead to ‘massive stock outs of quality-assured TB drugs nationwide’ that could lead to the ‘rapid creation of drug-resistant TB strains’ as treatment was rationed, wrote Harvard Medical School doctors in an open letter to the British medical journal, the Lancet, in March. ‘An explosion of MDR-TB in North Korea would take decades to clean up and could detrimentally affect the public health of bordering countries like China and South Korea, and beyond’ they warned.
‘The decision, made with almost no transparency or publicity, runs counter to the ethical aspiration of the global health community, which is to prevent death and suffering due to disease, irrespective of the government under which people live. It is indeed a catastrophic betrayal of the people of the DPRK.’” Dr. Kwonjune Seung, Medical Director of the Eugene Bell Foundation and one of the authors of the March letter, called the lack of transparency ‘surprising, mysterious and disturbing.’”
Last September, 2017 at a film screening in New York, I spoke with a Harvard professor who is the CEO of a world renowned medical NGO staffed by world renowned Harvard trained physicians. The CEO informed me that his organization had been treating tuberculosis in North Korea, but their work had become difficult, if not impossible to continue because of obstacles and problems that were created in Washington, D.C. No problem was created by the DPRK government which welcomed their help.
Since then numerous humanitarian organizations have denounced the obstacles to their work caused by the US and UN Security Council sanctions on the DPRK. According to Stuart Leavenworth, in McClatchy Washington Bureau, March 1, 2018,
“Because of U.S. sanctions, Americans doing direct humanitarian work in the DPRK must get a special passport from the State Department. International restrictions on shipping metal into North Korea has hampered delivery of building supplies and even nail clippers”
On October 27, 2017 Tomas Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on human rights in the DPRK stated:
“I was alarmed by reports that sanctions may have prevented cancer patients from access to chemotherapy and blocked the import of wheelchairs and other disability equipment. In addition, humanitarian actors are now facing difficulties to source much-needed supplies and carry out international financial transactions…History shows us that sanctions can have devastating impact on the civilian population.”
According to TB Online,
“Over the past eight years, the Global Fund has disbursed more than $100 million for North Korea, of which nearly $70 million was spent for TB control. This is a relatively small amount of money relative to Global Fund grants in other countries, yet was huge for North Korea, which receives very little humanitarian aid of any kind. No money goes to the DPRK government; UNICEF and WHO have been responsible for procuring drugs, equipment and commodities outside the country and then ensuring they were distributed correctly inside the country. Thus far, these systems have worked impeccably. There has been no evidence of fraud, corruption, or misuse of funds. All of these gains are threatened by the sudden and mysterious decision to suspend operations by June 30.”
The Washington Post, July 20:
“The sanctions imposed against North Korea by the United Nations and various national governments present challenges for any health-related programs in North Korea. When South Korea strengthened sanctions against the North in March 2016, it did not create any exceptions for humanitarian concerns. As a result, nongovernmental organizations trying to import TB drugs couldn’t get the export licenses they needed. Aid organizations working in North Korea have reported significant delays in getting drugs, building supplies and medical equipment as sanctions have strengthened…When access to treatment is limited or interrupted, the likelihood of patients developing MDR-TB increases. MDR-TB is even harder and more expensive to treat, which makes the problem even worse. And this is exactly the situation North Korea will face when the Global Fund grants end.”
According to Dr. Jennifer Furin:
“This decision by the Global Fund is a weapon of destruction in and of itself. TB is an airborne disease. IT doesn’t stay within borders.”
The Vice-Minister of Public Health of the DPRK, Kim Hyong Hun said the decision to cut funding for North Korea is “the outcome of the pressure of some hostile forces. The Agency’s decision was timed with the US announcement of keeping “maximum pressure’ on the DPRK.”
It is difficult to identify what motivates the members of the UN Security Council to support this psychopathic series of sanctions, the consequences of which may, ultimately cause the deaths of their own loved ones, as the uncontrollable results of their irresponsibility may unleash a global epidemic of the most virulent strains of tuberculosis. In a tragic form of retributive justice, as the members of the Security Council and their loved ones ultimately suffer the same agony as their victims in the DPRK: “What goes around comes around,” otherwise called “bad Karma.
There has been extensive warning, and worldwide expressions of alarm about the consequences of denial of medical treatment to citizens within the DPRK, and the potential for diseases to spread, causing a pandemic. It is therefore a staggering manifestation of stupidity, psychopathology, or deliberate malice, an unleashing of biological warfare against the citizens of the DPRK, for the UN Security Council Sanctions to have been inflicted on the DPRK for twelve years, and it is criminal that the sanctions have not been lifted.
Persisting with the UN Sanctions, while knowing that they are causing and increasing diseases within the DPRK, and while aware that withholding medication for TB will result in the development of resistant-strains of TB in patients in the DPRK, is a conscious deliberate decision to incubate and encourage fatal diseases in North Korea, a consummately evil decision comparable to barbaric actions by the earlier Europeans invaders of the Americas, who sent malaria and smallpox-infested blankets to the indigenous peoples of the North America, and the Mapuche tribe in South America. This is an intentional and stealthy effort to crush or exterminate the people of the DPRK, a socialist nation with a spirit so strong and courageous that they have heroically resisted attempts to subjugate them for the past 68 years.
On June 27 The Telegraph quoted TB experts stating:
“This is a catastrophic betrayal of the people of the DPRK.”
Despite fervent opposition by TB experts, the Global fund closed their program. Dr. Jennifer Furin stated:
“Tuberculosis in any region of the world is a problem for all of us….I think this has to be for political reasons. Healthcare should not be used as a weapon. And certainly healthcare around tuberculosis given that this is an airborne disease. Drugs shortages and fragmented care would affect children first…and then it spreads to the adult population and we start to see really catastrophic health consequences in terms of numbers of people sick and dying in terms of the spread of disease. It’s very predictable.”
According to Forbes,
“The effect of destabilization of countries on TB was previously seen resulting from the collapse of the USSR. The disease had been well controlled with directly observed therapy prior to 1989, and this all fell apart when the Soviet Union collapsed, with the incidence of disease increasing along with a spike in MDR-TB.”
It is not known yet whether Dr. Jim Kim, President of the World Bank, has issued any public statement about the Global Fund’s decision to cut funding to the DPRK. Dr. Kim is a physician whose success in treating MDR-TB in destitute areas of Peru, and elsewhere, was revealed in the film: “Bending the Arc.”
In the last grant review the Global Fund rated the DPRK “A1, exceeding expectations,” a stellar rating confirming outstanding cooperation from DPRK health workers and TB patients. With such astoundingly positive results, the only possible explanation for the Global Fund’scandalous and suspect abortion of such an extraordinarily successful program must be political pressure from the authors of the UN sanctions regime. The authors of the UN sanctions are not only impervious to the human suffering the sanctions inflict, but, on the contrary, are deliberately inflicting mass suffering, despite their figleaf of “humanitarian exemptions” which notoriously, chronically and “mysteriously” fail to work. On the contrary, US insistence upon “maximum pressure” suggests that it was the very success in healing DPRK TB patients that made the Global Fund a target of intense political pressure to cut their grants to North Korea.
The announcement of the funding cut months before June caused a fierce outcry of shock and disgust from the most distinguished and respected physicians and organizations, who recognized that this abhorrent action ranged from a disgrace to the medical profession to a criminal withholding of medical aid. This should have caused the Global Fund to reconsider. The fact that they persisted, despite being assailed by the global health community indicates that extreme pressures, “maximum pressures” whether threats or bribes, were used to abort their success. It is imperative to investigate to source of this criminal decision. Such spectacular success as the DPRK demonstrated, in utilization of humanitarian aid, usually merits an increase in funding, as it demonstrates to donors that their money is being used successfully for the purpose intended, and their money is not being wasted or stolen. This success greatly enhances the prestige of the donors, and of the organization itself. Aborting such successful programs is a violent action, irreparably damaging the reputation of the organization and the people who control it. The question as to why? must be answered, and it is highly probable that the answer is similar, if not identical to the situation regarding sanctions on Iraq, which was exposed in an article published in Harper’s, 2002, by Joy Gordon, entitled: “Cool War: Economic Sanctions as a Weapon of Mass Destruction.”
“It was easy to discover that for the last ten years a vast number of lengthy holds had been placed on billions of dollars worth of what seemed unobjectionable – and very much needed – imports to Iraq. But I soon learned that all U.N. records that could answer my questions were kept from public scrutiny. This is not to say that the UN is lacking in public documents related to the Iraq program. What is unavailable are the documents that show how the U.S. policy agenda has determined the outcome of humanitarian and security judgments…The operation of Iraq sanctions involves numerous agencies within the United Nations…These agencies have been careful not to publicly discuss their ongoing frustration with the manner in which the program is operated…Over the last three years, through research and interviews with diplomats I have acquired many of the key confidential UN documents concerning the administration of Iraq sanctions. I obtained these documents on the condition that my sources remain anonymous. What they show is that the United States has fought aggressively through the last decade to purposefully minimize the humanitarian goods that enter the country. And it has done so in the face of enormous human suffering, including massive increases in child mortality and widespread epidemics…What is less well known is that the government of Saddam Hussein had invested heavily in health, education and social programs for two decades prior to the Persian Gulf War of 1991.”
The immense difficulty, and often the inability of humanitarian organizations to deliver aid to people of the DPRK, despite the so-called “humanitarian exemptions,” and the preposterous excuse that these sanctions are “targeted,” is a damning indictment of the malevolent intent of these sanctions. Humanitarian workers are predominantly altruistic, accustomed to working and prevailing under often excruciatingly difficult conditions, and expert at succeeding in delivering aid in seemingly hopeless circumstances. The fact that so many organizations find it virtually impossible to deliver humanitarian care in North Korea, despite the fact that the government of the DPRK welcomes these humanitarian organizations and offers complete cooperation, can only be explained as the result of obstructions deliberately created by the sanctions to completely thwart humanitarian aid, and condemn the people of the DPRK to intolerable privations.
Two Methods of Annihilation: Saturation Bombing or Sanctions
During the first four months of the US led UN attack against North Korea in 1950, the country was almost literally wiped from the face of the earth, as described in the Cablegram dated 7 December 1950 from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of DPRK to the President of the Security Council “Concerning the Complaint of Aggression Against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”:
“With the methodicalness of civilized barbarians, the American armed forces, bombing from the air, from the sea and by other means, have destroyed all the big industrial enterprises in Korea and a majority of the medium-sized and smaller enterprises, wiped small and large towns from the face of the earth, destroyed villages, and now that winter is coming on they have begun the systematic destruction of the remaining settlements. American aircraft carry out over a thousand sorties daily to bomb Korean towns and villages. Using scorched-earth tactics, the American Air Force drops on towns and villages in which there are no military targets of any kind an enormous quantity of incendiary and high-explosive bombs, destroying houses and private property of peaceful inhabitants, leaving millions of persons homeless and destitute. The systematic bombing of the remaining inhabited places became especially intense in the second half of October. ………..Having announced their intention to break the will of the Korean people to fight for their freedom and independence of their mother country, the American interventionists are prepared to destroy every living thing, to turn Korea into a desert in order to carry out their rapacious plans for the enslavement of the Korean people. The American imperialists have issued a tacit ultimatum to the Korean people, either submit to the domination of American imperialism or we will destroy every living thing in your country……”
After suffering the obliteration of their country, and the slaughter of at least twenty percent of their people, with the survivors rendered destitute as a result of the monstrous military aggression to which North Korea was subjected, it is understandable that the DPRK needed nuclear weapons to defend itself from such an enemy.
Today the DPRK has these nuclear weapons and if such overt military onslaught were attempted again, they could retaliate in kind, with prohibitive costs to the aggressor. Consequently, the US and its obsequious partners on the Security Council are using a covert and Machiavellian method of obliterating the noble people who resist enslavement by Western “interests.” This covert biological warfare may, in fact, be more effective in weakening this brave people and demolishing their strength and will. A bombing campaign may actually strengthen the will to resist such conspicuous barbarism. This subtler biological warfare campaign is more difficult to identify and resist.
But North Korea is legitimately demanding that these criminal sanctions be ended. Any suggestion that the sanctions will be lifted after denuclearization is genocidal: the sanctions alone have the potential to destroy North Korea. While the foremost nuclear weapons expert in the United States, Dr. Siegfried Hecker and his colleagues at Stanford University advise that safe denuclearization will require at least ten years to reduce and manage risks, Bolton and Pompeo are demanding that the DPRK “ hand over 70 percent of their nuclear weapons within six to eight months,” which is clearly an insane demand, possibly endangering the world even if the DPRK agreed to such demented dictates.
It is clear that Washington now does not seem to be capable of negotiating any fair agreement. It is possible that Win-Win is not a possibility for a capitalist system which requires domination. In 1994 Former President Jimmy Carter brilliantly succeeded in negotiating an honorable peace agreement with the DPRK, but he did so by daringly defying the Washington establishment.
Although lengthy studies of previous US-DPRK negotiations by Leon V. Sigal of Arms Control Today repeatedly emphasized that North Korea acted in good faith, going more than half-way to accommodate the demands of Washington, (which was conspicuously incompetent in its approach), while Washington frequently betrayed its commitments; and in 1997 Bruce Cumings published an article entitled “Time to End the Korean War,” Washington is still not honoring its agreement at the Singapore Summit, and has still not signed a peace treaty with North Korea.
The question must be asked: Why should the DPRK abandon its nuclear weapons to an enemy which refuses to guarantee peace? Why should the DPRK abandon its nuclear weapons to a nation notorious for breaking its commitments, and which refuses to lift the sanctions which are eviscerating the people of North Korea?
As the DPRK states today: “Expecting any result while insulting the dialogue partner and throwing cold water over our sincere efforts for building confidence is indeed a foolish act that amounts to waiting to see a boiled egg hatch out.”
Carla Stea is Global Research’s correspondent at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, N.Y.