The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has grown increasingly alarmed this week with escalating tension built up following a North Korean missile test going over Japanese territory, and a subsequent call by President Trump that ‘the time for talking is over’. When it comes to the threat of a nuclear weapon attack, the NFLA believe the time for talking and diplomacy is never over, as the effects of such an attack would have truly global implications.
NFLA strongly support a new initiative by members of the international nuclear disarmament network Abolition 2000’. (1) Its ‘Appeal for a diplomatic solution in North East Asia’ has been formally endorsed by NFLA and individually signed by the UK Steering Committee Chair and Vice Chairs as well as the NFLA Irish (Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland), English, Scottish and Welsh Forum Chairs.
The Appeal calls on the urgent resumption of peace talks involving North Korea with China, Japan, Russia, the United States and South Korea. It also remembers the tremendous loss of life in the Korean War and how much more devastating that could be if nuclear weapons on either side are actively used in a new conflict.
The current crisis comes after a North Korean missile test flew over Japan on Tuesday. A ‘war of words’ between the North Korean and United States Presidents has accompanied the missile test. NFLA welcomes the recent statements of the United States Secretary of State and Defence Secretary calling for a diplomatic solution, which have been echoed at the United Nations and by many affected states.
Any nuclear weapon attack, however ‘limited’, could have devastating effects not just on the city and country attacked, but also on the wider world. Research by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and other groups suggests it could lead to a major decline in global food production and could exacerbate the harmful effects of global climate change. (2)
Just over three weeks ago, at the 9th Mayors for Peace General Conference in Nagasaki, representatives unanimously agreed a resolution backing de-escalation of the North Korean nuclear weapons crisis and the urgent introduction into international law of the multilateral Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty. (3) It is only by getting rid of the most harmful weapon of mass destruction that the world can positively move towards peaceful solutions in defusing international tensions. Talks with North Korea, with sufficient political will, can lead to the type of peaceful solution which previously defused similar tensions with Iran’s nuclear programme.
NFLA Steering Committee Vice-Chair Councillor David Blackburn said:
“I and my colleagues in the Nuclear Free Local Authorities welcome Abolition 2000’s appeal for a diplomatic solution in North East Asia and we join with them to call on all those involved in this crisis to come together urgently and discuss ways to de-escalate tension created by North Korea’s missile tests. NFLA disagrees with President Trump’s assertion that the time for talking with North Korea on its nuclear weapons programme is over. It does not believe that North or South Korea would wish to see a new war between them or a wider conflict that could see a nuclear weapon strike. These are dangerous times and we call for calm heads and effective diplomacy. A nuclear weapon attack would cause the indiscriminate deaths of potentially millions of people and must be avoided at all cost.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Abolition 2000 Appeal for a diplomatic solution in North East Asia –
Abolition 2000, a coalition representing peace and disarmament organisations from around the world, call on the United States and North Korea to step back from the brink of war in North East Asia, and instead adopt a diplomatic approach to prevent war.
We call for the immediate commencement of negotiations to prevent a military conflict from erupting, and to resolve the underlying conflicts. Such negotiations should take place both bilaterally and through a renewed Six-Party framework involving China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States.
The escalating tensions and threat of military conflict over North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities makes a diplomatic solution of vital importance and the highest priority. The increasing risk of war – and possibly even the use of nuclear weapons by miscalculation, accident, or intent – is frightening.
More than three million citizens of Korea, Japan, China, USA and other countries lost their lives in the Korean War from 1950-1953. Should a war erupt again, the loss of lives could be considerably worse, especially if nuclear weapons are used. Indeed, a nuclear conflict erupting in Korea could engulf the entire world in a nuclear catastrophe that would end civilization as we know it.
In supporting diplomacy rather than war, we:
- Oppose any pre-emptive use of force by any of the parties, which would be counter-productive and likely lead to nuclear war;
- Call on all parties to refrain from militaristic rhetoric and provocative military exercises;
- Encourage China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States to consider the phased and comprehensive approach for a North-East Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone with a 3+3 arrangement, which already has cross-party support in Japan and South Korea and interest from the North Korean government;
- Encourage China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States to also consider options and modalities for turning the 1953 Armistice Agreement into a formal end to the 1950-1953 Korean War;
- Welcome the call of the UN Secretary-General for a resumption of Six-Party talks and his offer to assist in negotiations;
- Welcome also the offer of the European Union to assist in diplomatic negotiations, as they did successfully in the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program;
- Call on the United Nations Security Council to prioritise a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
Note: The 3+3 arrangement would include Japan, South Korea and North Korea agreeing not to possess or host nuclear weapons, and would require China, Russia and the USA agreeing not to deploy nuclear weapons in Japan, South Korea or North Korea, nor to attack or threaten to attack them with nuclear weapons.
(2) IPPNW – ‘Banning nuclear weapons: the humanitarian facts’ https://hinwcampaignkit.org
(3) Mayors for Peace Conference Special Resolution and Nagasaki Appeal, August 10th 2017