Like much of the world, the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) awaits the summit between the United States and North Korea over the latter’s nuclear weapons programme with some trepidation and a little hope. While hoping that progress can be made to see the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, NFLA is concerned that there appears no clear blueprint prior to the summit of how that will be achieved.
NFLA is a member of the Nobel Peace Laureate coalition ICAN – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – and welcomes that its CEO Beatrice Fihn is in Singapore offering a clear way forward.
ICAN have published a roadmap for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, as follows (1):
1 – Recognise that nuclear weapons pose an unacceptable risk to humanity
The start to solving any problem is admitting that there is one. North Korea and the US must both recognise the risks and unacceptable humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.
2 – Reject nuclear weapons and join the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty
Rather than risk the kind of disputes over verification and compliance that led to the collapse of previous talks, the United States and North Korea should agree to use a multilateral process through the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The treaty, adopted by the UN in 2017, forbids the development, testing, possession, use, and threatening to use nuclear weapons. North and South Korea should immediately join the TPNW, rejecting any role for nuclear weapons in their security policies. By joining the treaty, North Korea would commit to immediately cease any development, production, and manufacture of nuclear weapons, and irreversibly eliminate its nuclear weapons program. North Korea would be obliged to conclude and implement the highest level of IAEA non-proliferation safeguards. South Korea would also be obliged to reject the potential use of nuclear weapons on its behalf by the United States – to opt out of the US “nuclear umbrella”. South Korea would not have to end its military alliance with the United States; the TPNW does not prohibit military cooperation with nuclear-armed states and/or non-party states. South Korea could continue to rely on US extended deterrence, but not extended nuclear deterrence. Together, these undertakings would truly denuclearise the Korean peninsula.
3 – Remove North Korea’s nuclear weapons in a verifiable and irreversible way
Under the TPNW, North Korea would work with a competent international authority to develop and implement a time-bound, verifiable, and irreversible plan for the total elimination of its nuclear-weapon programme. The international community would play a key role in this process by verifying the elimination of North Korea’s nuclear-weapon programme. While this is a big step, that obviously depends on North Korea’s full cooperation and willingness to disarm, verified destruction of the North Korea’s nuclear weapons could be accomplished in as little as a few years.
4 – Ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)
The United States and North Korea should both commit never to test nuclear weapons again by ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Ceasing all nuclear-weapon test explosions would provide an effective measure of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. As a legally-binding instrument founded on a robust verification system, the CTBT would also help overcome the trust deficit that is a real impediment to progress on denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
5 – Rejoin the NPT and world community
Following the elimination of its nuclear weapons, North Korea should rejoin the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United States should pursue multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations as stipulated by NPT Article VI.
NFLA see this process as the type of blueprint that could bring about real and meaningful progress, as it is concerned neither party is truly signed up to such progressive moves going forward.
NFLA also calls on the United States and all countries involved in the Iran nuclear weapons agreement to come back to the negotiating table to resolve their differences to ensure that nuclear weapons non-proliferation can continue with Iran. Whilst any progress with North Korea is to be welcomed, the success of maintaining nuclear weapon non-proliferation in Iran must not be lost.
NFLA National Vice-Chairs Councillor Feargal Dalton, Councillor David Blackburn and Councillor Sue Lent said:
“Tomorrow’s summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore represents an opportunity for disarmament in this troubled and conflicted world. There remains a critical need to rid the world of nuclear weapons and we hope progress can be made, potentially using ICAN’s roadmap for denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. We also call on the United States, other nuclear weapon states and their supporters to actively engage in the wider discussions to prohibit nuclear weapons, joining the two thirds of countries in the world who have agreed and are ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As cyber threats and other critical challenges to the world increase, particularly climate change, the urgency to remove nuclear weapons becomes ever more acute. We hope the summit can be part of a wider process of working positively for a nuclear weapons free world.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) ICAN roadmap for denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, 11th June 2018