Below is a statement from CND on the Korean Peninsula nuclear crisis:
1. CND is gravely concerned at the escalation of nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula and unequivocally opposes all threats to use nuclear weapons. The situation is in serious danger of igniting a regional nuclear arms race. Since the Korean war has never been ended, and only armistice arrangements are in place on the peninsula, military gestures and activities by either side may be seen as a provocation by the other, even as an act of war. The risks of miscalculation are very real.
2. Branded as a ‘rogue state’ by US President Bush, the DPRK withdrew from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003 and since 2006 has sought to develop its own nuclear weapons capability, ignoring UN Security Council resolutions. In the current crisis the DPRK government has withdrawn from the armistice and threatened to attack South Korea, a non-signatory to the armistice, as well as US territories, hinting at a nuclear strike.
3. Despite the inclusion of a clause calling for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in the UN Security Council Resolution of March 2013, imposing further sanctions on the DPRK, the US and South Korea are persisting in carrying out joint military exercises which have involved the deployment of nuclear capable fighters, warships and missile defence systems in proximity to the DPRK, with the US also bringing forward plans to considerably increase its missile defence deployment in Alaska and Guam.
4. The current state of near-conflict is part of a 60-year cycle of threat and response. CND recognises that the past history of US nuclear threat against the DPRK, its annual military exercises, violating the spirit of the armistice, which simulate nuclear attack and occupation and which have taken place in disputed territorial waters, together with its nuclear posture of first strike attack against the DPRK and the integration of its nuclear weapons and its conventional war fighting capacity, have contributed to the DPRK’s development of its nuclear arsenal, reinforcing its commitment to this as a form of defence.
5. There is here a massive disparity in power: the DPRK is still far from being able to attach a nuclear warhead to a missile let alone launch a nuclear attack on US territories whilst the US is capable of launching a nuclear strike that could wipe out the majority of the DPRK’s inhabitants, spreading radiation across the whole peninsula and rendering Korea uninhabitable for decades or longer (whilst also spreading radioactive particles across the world). The DPRK’s continued nuclear development in the face of the US’s massive nuclear arsenal of 7,700 deployed weapons, completely exposes the myth that nuclear weapons deter; on the contrary they drive proliferation.
6. CND calls for both sides to de-escalate the tensions – the US and South Korea to cease their provocative military exercises and the DPRK to pull back from the brink of war, return to the armistice agreement and desist from nuclear threats. Whilst CND welcomes the postponement by the US of a scheduled Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile test, its view is that so long as the US-South Korea military exercises continue, tensions and the dangers of miscalculation remain high. The firing of long range missiles into the Pacific are a major cause of concern and should be halted altogether. Whilst noting that the DPRK has declared its nuclear weapons are for self-defence and to repel invasion, CND also calls for the DPRK to cease its nuclear development in compliance with the UN resolutions and prepare for denuclearisation. At the same time CND opposes the double standards of Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) which whilst penalising North Korea for nuclear development, continue to modernise their own nuclear arsenals. CND also calls on the NWS to fulfil their obligations under the NPT.
7. CND calls on both sides in the conflict to open a constructive dialogue leading to the denuclearisation of the peninsula as well as a peace agreement to end the Korean War and ultimately the goal of a North East Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. Given that the DPRK has repeatedly requested peace negotiations with the US, CND is of the view that President Obama should be the first to reach out with the goal of negotiating a peace settlement. Punitive sanctions and military threats will not resolve the decades of military tensions on the Korean Peninsula. In fact in adopting this approach, the US has repeatedly missed opportunities for diplomacy to follow through on significant steps agreed at the Six-Party Talks.
8. Prime Minister David Cameron’s assertion as to the necessity of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system, made amidst what is possibly the most serious nuclear crisis since the Cuban crisis of 1962, reveals him to be a danger to the world. Whilst other world leaders including Ban Ki-Moon, the Russian and Chinese governments, politicians in South Korea and the US – were calling on both sides in the conflict to end military posturing, Cameron was inflaming the situation giving a green light to warmongers, including those in both South Korea and Japan demanding the development of their own nuclear weapons. The UK as one of the five permanent members of the UNSC and an influential power should act responsibly to minimise the risks of war; it should have called on both sides of the conflict to return to the Six-Party Talks in compliance with UNSC Resolution 2094. With its close relationship with the US, the UK is specially placed to urge the US to suspend its military exercises and turn to diplomacy – and should do so.