November 20, 2016
A possible breakthrough in prohibiting nuclear weapons
On October 27, 2016, we witnessed the historic resolution (L.41) adopted by the First Committee of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, which “decides to convene in 2017 a UN conference to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their elimination.” We welcome the fact that 123 countries (non-nuclear weapon state members of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) plus the DPRK) supported this historic resolution. On the other hand, it is truly regrettable that not only four nuclear weapon states (US, Russia, UK and France) but other most of the non-nuclear weapon states (except Netherlands which abstained) that fall under extended nuclear deterrence, such as NATO countries, South Korea and Japan, opposed this resolution (38 countries opposed and 16 abstained). We urge them to support the resolution and to join negotiation of a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.
Northeast Asia: Stalemate and Possible Hint for Negotiations
In the Northeast Asia region, defining and consolidating Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status presents an example of successfully addressing a nuclear security issue by political and diplomatic means, bearing duly in mind the interests of the parties involved and setting a positive example.
Despite this example, there continues to be the stalemate, or even a regression, in the efforts for denuclearization of Northeast Asia. After three years of absence, the fourth and the fifth underground nuclear tests were conducted by the DPRK in 2016, and many tests were also conducted in relation to ballistic missiles that can be used as vehicles for such weapons. Those tests are clearly a violation of UN Security Council’s resolutions and we express our deep concern about the progress made by the DPRK nuclear weapon programs.
We also witnessed military reactions from both sides to show force, including regular reinforced US-ROK joint military exercises, flight operations by the US strategic bombers from the continental U.S. and Guam, and Korean People’s Army landing and anti-landing drills. The agreement between the U.S. and the ROK to deploy THAAD system on the soil of the ROK has raised tension in the area beyond the Peninsula.
The remarkable situation in NEA is also characterized by the fact that no official forum involving the DPRK, either bilateral, trilateral or multilateral, to overcome such stalemate or regression in nuclear issues has taken place since the 2012 leap day agreement between the DPRK and the US. It is clear that the so-called “strategic patience” policy by the US is not working, and so far no major initiatives have been taken by members of six party talks to break this stalemate.
On the other hand, we note that there were significant calls for a negotiation from the DPRK to the US. In January 2015, the DPRK proposed that, in exchange of the US temporary suspension of joint military exercises in ROK and its vicinity, the DPRK will be ready to take such responsive steps as temporarily suspending its nuclear test. This call was repeated in January this year, by saying all proposals were still valid “including the ones for ceasing our nuclear test and the conclusion of a peace treaty in return for U.S. halt to joint military exercises.”
Moreover, the DPRK presented five concrete points of conditions on July 6, 2016 . The US administration agreed four out of five points previously. The DPRK also said that, if such conditions were met, a decisive breakthrough would be made in realizing the denuclearization on the Korean peninsula. In our view, those conditions were worth considering. Inaction in engaging the DPRK in regional talks to develop a scheme for shared peace and security in the region will only give more time that will serve for the DPRK to strengthen its nuclear capabilities.
Need for a Comprehensive Approach
Now it is clear that engagement of the DPRK cannot be limited to just nuclear and missile issues, but should extend to a more comprehensive agenda including a peace treaty to end the Korean War and establishment of a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in Northeast Asia (NEA-NWFZ) which will provide security assurances to a non-nuclear DPRK, the ROK and Japan. We recommend establishment of a platform for discussions involving various Northeast Asian security issues. Lack of such a forum is one of the weaknesses of the existing security framework in Northeast Asia. We call on all the member countries of the six party talks to renew their efforts to break the current negative situation in NEA and to convene a new round of talks.
We are concerned about Nuclear Weapon States’ nuclear modernization programs and other activities, such as ballistic missile defense deployment, that escalate the arms race in the region, and call upon them to restrain these activities.
Especially, we urge new President-elect Donald Trump to become more aware of the real threats posed by nuclear weapons regionally and globally, and to carefully consider new nuclear weapon policy options through dialogues at both official and civil society levels instead of pursuing purely military solutions. If such careful consideration is given, the change of US Administrations could be an opportunity to gain new momentum for a possible diplomatic breakthrough.
Also we call for special roles to be played by the ROK and Japan. In recent discussions that led to the above UNGA resolution to legally prohibit nuclear weapons, such roles to be played by non-nuclear countries that are dependent on extended nuclear deterrence have been emphasized. The ROK and Japan should not demand strengthening extended nuclear deterrence from the US but rather should demonstrate that regional nuclear threats can best be solved by diplomatic processes such as a comprehensive approach to establish a NEA-NWFZ. This will also contribute to decreasing the role of nuclear weapons and moving towards global nuclear disarmament. Additionally, Japan’s plan to separate more plutonium on top of existing huge stockpile undermines the opposition to unnecessary and dangerous plutonium separation in China and S. Korea.
1 Korea Central News Agency, July 6, 2016. Five points are; 1) all nuclear weapons of the US in South Korea must be publicly disclosed; 2) all nuclear weapons in the South Korea should be dismantled and verified; 3) Washington must guarantee that it will not deploy offensive nuclear weapons in South Korea and its vicinity; 4) the US must commit not to use nuclear weapons against North Korea; and 5) Washington declare its willingness to withdraw from South Korea all troops holding the authority to use nuclear weapons.
Morton H. Halperin
Senior advisor, the Open Society Foundations
Emeritus Professor, Victoria University Melbourne
Chair, Asia Pacific Leadership Network (APLN)
Professor, Yonsei University
Former Director, RECNA; Visiting Professor, Nagasaki University,
November 20, 2016
Since the establishment of Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University (RECNA), it has intensively conducted a research on denuclearization of Northeast Asia and establishment of a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NEA-NWFZ) and it published a policy proposal on the comprehensive approach toward the establishment of NEA-NWFZ in 2015.
In 2016, in order to promote the realization the above mentioned policy proposal, RECNA and PCU (Prefecture, City and University) Nagasaki Council for Nuclear Weapons Abolition(PCU-NC) initiate various activities named “Nagasaki Process” to facilitate political process to realize peace and security in Northeast Asia through establishment of a NEA-NWFZ involving experts from the region and relevant countries and international organizations. Panel on Peace and Security of Northeast Asia (PSNA) will function as a main body of Nagasaki Process.
Section 1 Objectives
- 1.1 The overall objective of the Nagasaki Process is to support and promote the creation of peace and security of Northeast Asia through establishment of a NEA-NWFZ.
- 1.2 In order to achieve the overall objective, the Nagasaki Process is intended:
- 1.2.1 To formulate practical policy proposals
- 1.2.2 To promote dialogues among participants and possible dialogue with DPRK
- 1.2.3 To promote better understandings among peoples of the region
Section 2 Expected Impact
- 2.1 By promoting dialogues and formulating practical policy proposals, the expected impacts of the Nagasaki Process are as follows:
- 2.1.1 By providing possible policy alternatives, convincing relevant policy makers as well as peoples of the relevant countries;
- 2.1.2 By promoting dialogues, enhancing mutual understanding and solving misunderstanding, and contributing to regional confidence building;
- 2.1.3 By continuing dialogue, showing our determination to engage each other.
Section 3 Governing Principles
- 3.1 The Nagasaki Process, in its activities and practices, will be;
- ・Inclusive and comprehensive
- ・Respectful of cultural norms and differences
- ・Focused on peacebuilding opportunities, rather than military solutions
- ・Constructive, not critical
- ・Paying due respect to human dignity as well as national sovereignty
- ・Open and respectful in its communications
Section 4 Panel on Peace and Security of Northeast Asia
- 4.0 Mission of the Panel is described in the attached Mission Statement.
- 4.1 The Panel shall be independent and non-partisan.
- 4.2 Members of the Panel shall be invited as individuals, not in their official capacities.
- 4.3 New panel members shall be invited by the names of Co-Chairs based on recommendations of more than two members. In selection of new members, due considerations shall be paid to adequate geographical, ethnic, cultural and gender distribution.
- 4.4 Duration of memberships shall be three years from their appointment and the duration of each member may be extended.
- 4.5 The Panel shall nominate Co-Chairs by voting.
- 4.6 The Co-Chairs shall discharge the following functions;
- ・Representing the Panel
- ・Preparing provisional agenda for the Panel
- ・Coordinating the meetings and workshops with assistance by RECNA
- ・Other relevant matters
- 4.7 Co-Chairs serve for a term of three years, and can be re-elected. In order not to have all seats elected the same year, terms will be staggered – one or two seats will be elected on separate years.
- 4.8. In spite of the above provisions, the initial members of the Panel and the first Co-Chairs shall be nominated by RECNA through consultation with PCU-Nagasaki Council. Initial Co-Chairs serve for a term with special arrangements, i.e. one chair will serve for one year, another one for two years, the remaining two will serve for three years.
Section 5 Relationship to Relevant Processes
- 5.1 The Nagasaki Process will seek a constructive relationship with any relevant national, regional and multilateral governmental processes.
- 5.2 The Nagasaki Process will seek a cooperative relationship with any relevant activity of civil society, including that of local governments.
- 5.3 Contributions to Track 1 and Track 1.5 will be pursued, particularly through the transmission of relevant outcomes of the Nagasaki Process meetings to relevant actors.
Section 6 Secretariat and Administration
- 6.1 Initially, RECNA will act as a secretariat of the Nagasaki Process until the Panel decides otherwise and RECNA will take primary responsibility for the followings with cooperation of other participants and relevant organizations;
- ・Calling for meetings
- ・Providing logistical support for meetings
- ・Providing secretarial support for meetings
- ・Communications among members
- ・Public Relations
- ・Raising funds
- ・Other administrative matters
Section 7 Participants and Target Groups
- 7.1 All participants of the Nagasaki process shall be treated as individuals regardless of their affiliations or official status and all meetings shall be conducted under the “Chatham House Rule” unless the participants of the certain meeting would decide otherwise.
- 7.2 While all participants shall be treated as individuals, all participants are expected to make efforts to promote the objectives of the Nagasaki Process by transmitting, disseminating or publicizing the outputs of the meetings among their groups, nationals, colleagues, and so on.
RECNAニューズレター Vol.5 No.4 (2017年3月31日発行)