【Jun. 1, 2018】Statement and Recommendations of the Co-Chairs of the 3rd Panel on Peace and Security of Northeast Asia (PSNA) Workshop

Category : PSNA Activities

Moscow, May 31 – June 1st, 2018
Sponsored by the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition,
Nagasaki University (RECNA)

[PDF version]

New Prospects for Dialogue and Denuclearization

We were heartened by a return to dialogue on Korean denuclearization following the 27th April Panmunjom meeting and Declaration between the South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North Korean Chairman, Kim Jong-un. Following the alarming exchange of nuclear threats between US and North Korean leaders earlier this year, we welcome the Panmunjom Declaration’s commitment to reducing tensions, establishing permanent peace on the Peninsula, and achieving the “common goal of realising, through complete denuclearisation, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula”. We also note that both Koreas have taken several unilateral confidence building steps towards these ends, including North Korean undertakings to halt nuclear and missile testing and dismantle their nuclear weapon test site, South Korean/US willingness to temporarily postpone joint military exercises till after the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, and the steps to reduce confrontation across the demilitarized zone.

Equally, however, we would be dismayed if the Trump-Kim June summit meeting were not to go ahead as planned, and by any further exchange of threats and counter threats. A nuclear conflict in this densely populated region would be an unthinkable humanitarian catastrophe for the Koreas, Japan and across the whole Asia Pacific region. With the presence of neighbouring nuclear powers, China and Russia, such a conflict could escalate into a wider nuclear war engulfing the whole world. Dialogue and diplomacy, rather than resort to war, have never been more urgent if we are to achieve peace on the Peninsula.

We remain deeply concerned that the risks of devastating nuclear conflict in this region are so grave that any initial dialogue will need to be rapidly solidified into substantive internationally-recognized verified agreements on comprehensive measures to create regional Northeast Asian peace, security and denuclearization. The proposed Trump-Kim summit will be vital to achieving the necessary political will for a step-by-step peace settlement process with its own verification requirements.

Studies conducted by PSNA experts have identified a number of steps that would be necessary in this process, including, most recently a Roadmap for Nuclear Diplomacy in North Korea prepared by Morton Halperin, Peter Hayes, Thomas Pickering and Leon Segal. As the experts detail, key elements of this Roadmap (modelled on the previous 2005 Six-Party Talks Joint Statement) are to:

The first phase of this Roadmap would involve initial commitments by North Korea to suspend all nuclear and missile tests, and fissile material production (including enrichment) in return for the US and ROK scaling back joint exercises (especially those using nuclear capable systems); and to provide energy and humanitarian assistance to DPRK.

A second phase would involve a resumption of Six Party talks without preconditions, confidence building measures, verification of dismantlement of relevant test sites, and negotiations commencing on a new peace and regional security arrangement.

The final phase would include: the declaration and implementation of a legally binding and internationally verified nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty (as in the case of five other regions in the world together with the single state Mongolian NWFZ); a final peace treaty agreed for the ending of the Korean War; and negative security guarantees provided by the recognised nuclear-armed-states to all parties to a regional NWFZ.

Vital to successful implementation of such a Roadmap to Northeast Asian Peace and Security will not only be the position of the two Koreas and the United States, but also other regional states, particularly Japan and Mongolia, and neighbouring nuclear powers, China and Russia, as well as the UN and wider international community.

In its role as a key regional state, we urge that Japan offer strong and substantive support to the new peace diplomacy inaugurated in the recent Moon/Kim Panmunjom Declaration. In particular, we call on its leadership to pursue patient and considered diplomacy in joining six-party declarations on the principles and goals of a Northeast Asian peace process; support a comprehensive Korean peace settlement; resolve outstanding issues in normalizing relations with North Korea; and offer the same kind of practical diplomatic support for a Northeast Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone as it did for the successful establishment of the 2006 Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.

Continued nuclear risks and dangers in Northeast Asia

We continue to hold grave fears about nuclear risks and threats in this region. These risks include: the arms race consequences of missile defence systems in the region, particularly the THAADS system and planned Aegis Ashore systems; increased deployment of potentially nuclear capable vessels in Northeast Asian waters; tensions in neighbouring regions, such as the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits; and the long term threats posed by increasing regional stockpiles of fissile materials. Some of these risks are analysed, and solutions proposed, in specialist research presentations at this PSNA Moscow Workshop.

In the case of THAADS missile-defence (MD) interceptor-rocket launchers already positioned in South Korea and Aegis Ashore systems planned in Japan, we continue to be deeply concerned that, while at first sight these might seem purely defensive, such systems also have a dual role in accelerating regional arms races because of a perceived need by targeted adversaries to overwhelm any missile defence system by deploying increased number of missiles and adding multiple warheads to each missile. In addition, such systems may well prove destabilizing given their long-range radar surveillance capabilities extending into Chinese and Russian territories, and potentially posing a pre-emptive strike risk serving to undermine China’s and Russia’s second-strike nuclear capability.

We also continue to be highly concerned about the potential for miscalculated or accidental nuclear war as a consequence of previously expressed (excluding China which maintains a no-first-use policy) preparedness to engage in pre-emptive strikes by some nuclear-armed states. There is also the risk of nuclear war resulting from early warning system computer errors, and from cyber attacks on nuclear weapon systems. We are equally concerned about the development of new types of nuclear-armed intermediate range and cruise missiles, which, even if conventionally armed, might appear to be, and mistaken for, nuclear armed missiles.

Further, given the existing presence of nuclear weapons in North Korea, and potentially nuclear-weapon-related facilities in other parts of the region, an effective verification scheme and arrangements will need to be developed and implemented to ensure all sides have confidence of compliance with agreements reached. Such a verification scheme would not only draw upon appropriate safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) but also warrant establishment of a regional verification agency with a more extended mandate to investigate compliance within the region.

The new UN Nuclear Weapon Prohibition Treaty (NWPT)

The recent July 2017 adoption of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (NWPT), supported by 122 non-nuclear UN Member States, will serve to outlaw nuclear weapons in a similar way to how chemical and biological weapons have been stigmatized and prohibited under international law. The new treaty seeks to mobilize the world community in applying normative pressure on states still possessing or relying on nuclear purported deterrents. It appeals to these states to rethink the global humanitarian, economic and environmental consequences of even a limited nuclear war. Such globally catastrophic impacts would extend far beyond the borders of those states who justify their continued nuclear reliance on the basis of national rather than global security interests. The nine current nuclear-armed states have largely sought to ignore the wider humanitarian and global threats posed by nuclear weapons, whether launched deliberately, accidentally or by miscalculation. We call upon all states, including nuclear “umbrella” states, to move towards reducing reliance on nuclear weapons as part of their defence or military postures, and to sign the NWPT treaty at the earliest opportunity.

Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Initiatives and NPT Action Plan

While the 1968 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty does not include all nuclear-armed states (Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea stand outside it), the NPT does oblige the five NPT-recognised nuclear-weapon states to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons, and to move towards total nuclear disarmament, particularly under Article VI which requires states to pursue negotiations in good faith on “cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament”, and under the agreed Action 5 of the 2010 NPT Review Conference committing nuclear-weapon states to “promptly engage with a view to…diminishing the role and significance of nuclear weapons in all military and security concepts, doctrines and policies”. The five nuclear-weapon states, China, France, Russia, UK and US, are all embarked on programs to modernize their nuclear armaments and delivery systems, while at the same time arguing that the NPT is the proper forum for disarmament negotiations. As we approach the 2020 NPT Review Conference, we call upon the nuclear powers to take seriously their agreed obligations towards reducing the role of nuclear weapons and move more decisively towards nuclear elimination.



Co-Chairs of Panel on Peace and Security of Northeast Asia (PSNA)

Michael Hammel-Green
Emeritus Professor, College of Arts and Education
Vitoria University

Chung-in Moon
Asia Pacific Leadership Network for
Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (APLN)
Republic of Korea

Hiromichi Umebayashi
Visiting Professor, Former Director of RECNA