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TOWARD A NUCLEAR FREE WORLD was first launched in 2009 with a view to raising and strengthening public awareness of the urgent need for non-proliferation and ushering in a world free of nuclear weapons. Read more

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Dialogue and Diplomacy Essential To Prevent Nuclear Disaster

By U.S. Civil Society Groups

Following is a slightly abridged version of an open letter to the leaders of USA, South Korea and North Korea signed by more than 100 US civil society groups, released at the UN media briefing by Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of Western States Legal Foundation on 28 March 2018. – The Editor

As US civil society groups and individuals deeply concerned about dangerous military tensions between our nation and the DPRK, and the rising global risks of nuclear catastrophe, we wish to convey our deepest gratitude for the groundbreaking steps you have taken to begin the essential dialogue and diplomacy that must be undertaken if we are to prevent a war that would likely result in an unthinkable disaster for the Korean Peninsula, the United States and the world.

We fully support the upcoming inter-Korean summit in April and the U.S.-DPRK summit in May, and we urge you to patiently and diligently seek common ground.

Ever since the uneasy armistice of 1953, nearly sixty-five years ago, tensions between states involved in the Korean War have periodically erupted, but your actions in recent days have demonstrated to the world that the time is ripe for a formal resolution of that war.

Your vision and leadership, with the support of peace-loving people everywhere, can end the escalation of international tensions in Northeast Asia and lay the groundwork for a peace treaty among the original parties to the conflict on the Korean Peninsula. We applaud you for taking the bold steps needed to make that a reality. We are truly grateful for the vision of a world at peace that your promises to engage in dialogue have prepared us for.

We recognize that one encounter between US and North Korean leaders will not likely produce an agreement that leads to a lasting solution, but the planned summits offer the potential for starting a serious process that could move us decisively away from the current crisis.

We deeply appreciate the DPRK’s openness and flexibility that has enabled this process to move forward by pledging to refrain from conducting nuclear weapon or missile tests while the talks continue, and its readiness to address a course of denuclearization provided it is given assurances that its security will be guaranteed. Moreover, the DPRK has not raised objections to the planned April joint US-ROK military exercises.

We are heartened by reports that US aircraft carriers and possibly nuclear-powered submarines will not be participating in the upcoming joint military exercises. But in the spirit of the Olympic Truce, we urge the US and ROK to postpone the military exercises indefinitely, which would contribute significantly to creating a favorable environment in which to conduct peace talks.

Ultimately, the United States must also address a course of denuclearization if the promise of peace is to be realized. If talks are successful, North Korea could in due course rejoin the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which promised the DPRK access to peaceful nuclear power in return for its promise never to acquire nuclear weapons. We also urge the US to honor its NPT commitment, made nearly 50 years ago, to make good faith efforts to pursue nucleardisarmament by seeking negotiations with the other nuclear-armed states to achieve the promise of a world without nuclear weapons.

When the NPT was extended indefinitely in 1995, the US reaffirmed its pledge to undertake “the determined pursuit… of systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons.”

Your talks hold the promise of moving not only the region, but the entire world closer to realization of that most desirable outcome, in which there would no longer be a need for a menacing US nuclear umbrella relied upon by the ROK and Japan, and a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Northeast Asia would exist in a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Note: Initial signatories of the open letter are Kevin Martin, President, Peace Action; Jacqueline Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation; David Hartsough, Director, Peaceworkers; Paul Shannon, Coordinator, Massachusetts Peoples Budget Campaign; Cole Harrison, Executive Director, Massachusetts Peace Action; David Krieger, President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; David Swanson; Alice Slater, Coordinating Committee, World Beyond War; Patrick Hiller, Executive Director, War Prevention Initiative; Gar Smith, Co-founder, Environmentalists Against War; Christine Ahn, International Coordinator, Women Cross DMZ; Kwan Nam, National Coordinator, One Korea Now; Peter Kim, President, Support Committee for Korean Prisoners of Conscience in US; Joseph Gerson, Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security. [IDN-InDepthNews – 31 March 2018]

Photo credit: Abolition2000.

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