August 3 2012
North Korea is asking for food aid again and, as usual, American officials have said they’ll consider it. The AP reports:
North Korea needs immediate food assistance after heavy rains killed scores of people and submerged vast areas of farmland, a United Nations office said Thursday. The assessment was released by the United Nations resident coordinator’s office in North Korea’s capital after visits to flood-stricken areas this week. Floods caused by two storms last month killed at least 119 people and left tens of thousands homeless, according to the North’s state media. The flooding, which occurred on the heels of a severe drought, renewed concerns about North Korea’s ability to feed its people. In June, the United Nations said two-thirds of the country’s 24 million people were coping with chronic food shortages. North Korean officials are asking for food, fuel, medicine, water and purification supplies, while farmers are requesting seeds and fertilizer for the next season, the United Nations said. The United States said it would consider a request for assistance but had not received one from North Korea.
It’s disturbing that the State Department even signaled the possible support of this request particularly in light of statements made by Secretary Clinton just last month during a trip to Cambodia in which Clinton warned that North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and "pattern of provocations" (such as an April rocket launch) were serious threats to Asian and world security.
It’s time that Washington stopped sending aid to North Korea. This may sound harsh to deny starving people food aid but the sad truth is that few people outside of the political and military elite in North Korea’s capital Pyongyang will see any of this food aid (and if they do, the North Koreans will remove any signs that the aid was sent from the United States).
If America caves and sends this food aid, it will send yet another message to the North Koreans that they can continue their suicidal drive for nuclear weapons. The Obama Administration must refuse North Korea’s pleas for food aid.
It's the humanitarian thing to do.