While not widely reported in the US press, war rhetoric has been escalating rapidly since late April 2003, when North Korea's military reached full war preparedness. No army prepares for war, only to remain in this state for so long. What on earth is going on?
April 21, 2003 -- North Korea calls on all its citizens to increase the country's defence capabilities, according to the state's official media. 'All officers and men of the People's Army ... always keep yourselves combat ready,' the KCNA news agency reports the North Korean military as saying. 'If enemies invade our inviolable sky, land and seas even an inch, destroy up the aggressors with merciless annihilating blows'. The Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Worker's Party of Korea jointly issue the call which was carried in Pyongyang newspapers.
April 21, 2003 -- One day before scheduled talks between US and North Korean diplomats, a secret Donald Rumsfeld memorandum calling for regime change in North Korea is leaked. The paper does not call for military action against North Korea, but wants the United States to team up with China in pushing for the collapse of Kim Jong-il's bankrupt but belligerent regime.
April 24, 2003 -- American envoy James Kelly deliberately insults Chinese and North Korean diplomats by breaking off talks in Beijing without giving any notice. American embassy officials would not say where he was heading.
May 4, 2003 -- Kim Myong Chol, a Japanese-born Korean, delivers a message on behalf of the North Korean government: "North Korea has a nuclear capability. It's quite obvious. North Korea may have minimum 100 nuclear warheads, maximum 300. They all lock onto American cities... If the US attacks North Korea, North Korea will definitely use those nuclear weapons against the US mainland." Oops, shouldn't we take this threat seriously?
May 4, 2003 -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refuses to rule out the possibility of war with North Korea.
June 4, 2003 -- After a fairly uneventful month, war rhetoric continues to escalate. The US announces an $US11 billion new North Korean war plan... When war breaks out, the forces will skirt the DMZ and head for Pyongyang, giving them the ability to "take down" North Korea's heavy presence on the border within an hour of war breaking out.. "This is Kim Jong-il's worst nightmare," one official said.
June 11, 2003 -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's advisory panel states that the United States should be prepared to destroy North Korea's Yongbyon reactor if necessary to keep Pyongyang from trafficking in nuclear weapons.
June 11, 2003 -- Australia considers taking a role in an international effort to intercept North Korean ships that may be carrying weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or illegal cargoes used to finance its military programs. North Korea has always warned that a naval blockade would be a trigger for war. She cannot afford to have any interdiction of critical foodstuffs or fuel.
April 10, 2004 -- "The year to fear for Taiwan: 2006", By Wendell Minnick, Asia Times. "TAIPEI - If China ever makes the decision to invade Taiwan it is unlikely to be a large-scale Normandy-style amphibious assault. The reality is that China is more likely to use a decapitation strategy. Decapitation strategies short circuit command and control systems, wipe out nationwide nerve centers, and leave the opponent hopelessly lost. All China needs to do is seize the center of power, the capital and its leaders. If China decides to use force to reunify the mainland with what it terms a breakaway province, the window of opportunity is believed to be 2006. This would give China a couple of years to clean up the mess before the 2008 Summer Olympics. Most analysts estimate that China's military strength will surpass Taiwan's defense capabilities by 2005. So 2006 - the Year of the Dog - is clearly the year to fear."
April 22, 2004 -- A massive train explosion in North Korea claims the lives of approximately 3,000, including many children in a nearby school.
"North Korean security concludes train blast was assassination try", Special to World Tribune.com, June 1, 2004
"North Korea's state security agency has determined that April's massive train blast was a botched effort to kill North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, a South Korean newspaper reported ... Kim's heavily guarded special train passed through Ryongchon station on his way back from China just nine hours before the explosion. This triggered speculation that the incident was an assassination attempt on the North Korean leader ... Kim vanished from public view for more than a week following the explosion and the North's normally attentive state-controlled media made no mention of his activities or whereabouts."
June 20, 2004 -- China is told to withdraw its undertaking on no first-use of nuclear weapons should Taiwan try to blow up the Three Gorges Dam. The call was made by them - as well as some who sit on the country's top political advisory body - in the wake of a US Defence Department report which suggested that Taiwan could target the dam in a pre-emptive strike.
This kind of news story just escalates the war rhetoric. War rhetoric can play a significant role in starting a war nobody really wanted. As war talk escalates, war action generally follows.
August 1, 2004 -- China's Defense Minister Cao issued a stern warning to Taiwan, saying the mainland military has the strength and determination to "smash" any moves toward independence by the self-ruled island. Cao's remarks were published on the front pages of many newspapers and followed days of escalating rhetoric and tension, aggravated by annual war games held in July by both sides to display their military prowess. Wang Zaixi, vice minister of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, warned that Beijing won't rule out war if Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian pursues his plan to adopt a new constitution by 2008.
August 25, 2004 -- All 90 passengers and crew aboard two Russian passenger jets die after both planes went down almost simultaneously in different parts of the country, raising immediate suspicion of terrorist action. The accidents took place just four days ahead of controversial elections in the separatist Russian Caucasus republic of Chechnya.
September 1, 2004 -- "MOSCOW (AP) - A suicide bomber kills 10 people in a subway station. A militant Muslim group that claimed responsibility for the crash of two Russian airliners on August 25, said it was also behind the latest attack. The attack was only the latest in a string of violence in the capital and elsewhere that the government has appeared helpless to prevent. Most of the violence has been blamed on rebels in the breakaway republic of Chechnya or their sympathizers."
On the same day, more than a dozen attackers carrying guns and wrapped in suicide-bomb belts seized a school in the Russian region of North Ossetia and held hundreds of hostages, including some 200 children. More than 340 people died, and 542 wounded.
November 17, 2004 -- Portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il disappear from some public places like the Grand People's Cultural Palace, with talk going around that this is a sign of changes in the North Korean power structure. Several possible explanations for the portrait removal readily come to mind:
The United States has been successful in its attempts to assassinate him in order to force a "Regime Change"
An internal power struggle is under way and Kim Jong-il is not now in the ascendancy in that struggle.
December 22, 2004 -- Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage states that the US is not required to defend Taiwan if Beijing launches a war against the island. See WorldNetDaily. This statement could prove to be one of the most heinous acts of betrayal in recent history.
December 27, 2004 -- China Vows to prevent Taiwan Independence. These are fighting words, and come against an island state which has seen and heard many threats from the Chinese mainland. This is all part of the rhetoric designed to increase hostilities between the two countries in the lead up to WW3.
August 31, 2005 -- China is preparing for nuclear war with the United States over Taiwan, and a conflict is likely in the near future because of divisions among Beijing's leaders, a Chinese democracy activist says. See washingtontimes.com.