North Korea declares Sweden an enemy
Published: 19 Aug 2008 12:03 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Aug 2008 12:03 GMT+02:00
According to information from the Swedish Armed Forces, this brusque message was first conveyed in a North Korean radio broadcast, then printed as an official document and distributed to the United Nations.
The North Koreans' attack is not directed against the Swedish government as such, but against Sweden's and other neutral countries' military observation missions on the border between North and South Korea.
Sweden is active in the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) present in the area. Following the end of the Korean War in 1953, the NNSC's task is to keep the peace with the help of the Swedes and the Swiss in demilitarized zones.
According to the Swedish Armed Forces, this latest North Korean ouburst comes just when the NNSC is observing an autumn maneuver between the US and South Korea. In this case the NNSC is in charge of making sure that the maneuver is for defensive reasons.
According to Bengt Carlsson, one of the Swedes active within the NNSC, the tasks they are carrying out in North Korea are completely within the Armistice Agreement.
But according to the North Korean radio broadcast, the Swedish supervision mission is a charade and a remnant of times past when Sweden and Switzerland let themselves be manipulated to aid the US in its preparations for war.
North Korea's position on this issue is not new. According to Paulo Beijer, Swedish ambassador in Pyongyang between 2001-2005, the North Koreans have always been critical of the NNSC's activities.
North Korea has long wanted to replace the truce agreement of 1953 with a peace agreement, and has criticized the co-operation between South Korea and the US.
In September 2005 the countries of North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US agreed to start negotiations to replace the truce agreement with a regular peace agreement. Since then North Korea has continued to attack US and South Korea's policy as well as the NNSC's mission.