Published on November 29th, 2017 | by Susi Snyder


North Korea missile test signals need to reject nuclear weapons

The recent missile test conducted by North Korea demonstrates the continued effort to develop the capacity to use nuclear weapons on cities, and slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians in a few seconds. This is unacceptable. Any threat to use nuclear weapons  was recently outlawed by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

North Korea’s ongoing nuclear weapon program development, including missile development, claims to be a response to escalating threat perceptions in the region. The ongoing development demonstrates that threats to use nuclear weapons are not a deterrent but rather, an incitement to proliferation. North Korea’s missile testing has been ongoing for decades. Missile technology is not prohibited under international treaty, though there are some controls in place.

Any use of nuclear weapons on a populated area, such as Pyongyang, Seoul, Tokyo or Los Angeles would have catastrophic consequences and could lead to over a million civilian deaths through the blast, fires, and radiation.

North Korea’s actions are an example of the continued assertion by a minority that nuclear weapons have some perceived value. This is another reason why the international community has recently agreed to comprehensively prohibit the use, production, testing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons.

No one should be allowed to threaten cities and countries with the extreme devastation that nuclear weapons are designed to cause, and its why states are joining the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The treaty is a clear signal to the nine countries with nuclear weapons and their allies that the rest of the world considers their behaviour not only immoral, but also illegal.

This cycle of escalate, respond, sanction, test, escalate, respond, sanction, test will only end when States are serious about delegitimizing all nuclear weapons- and the way to do that is to sign and ratify the ban treaty.

The Treaty was not developed as a response to the North Korean nuclear program; it does not provide a quick solution to the current crisis. But it does provide a way for states to clearly reject and prohibit this behaviour, a beginning to the end of reliance on nuclear weapons.

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About the Author

Susi is the project lead for the PAX No Nukes project, she also coordinates the Don’t Bank on the Bomb research and campaign. She is an expert on nuclear weapons, with over two decades experience working at the intersect between nuclear weapons and human rights. In addition to the annual Don't Bank on the Bomb reports, Susi has published numerous reports and articles, including Banned but Allied: Next steps for NATO Alliance members after the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (2018); Escalating tensions: The perfect time to negotiate the outlaw and elimination of nuclear weapons(2015); Dealing with a ban (2015); The Rotterdam Blast: The immediate humanitarian consequences of a 12 kiloton nuclear explosion (2014); ‘Disarm, dismantle and make a profit: A cost-benefit analysis of nuclear modernisation versus nuclear disarmament’ (2013), and Withdrawal Issues: What NATO countries say about the future of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe (2011). She represents PAX on the International Steering Group of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Susi is a 2016 Nuclear Free Future Award Laureate. Previously, Mrs. Snyder served as the Secretary General of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) at their Geneva secretariat, and she is still President of the WILPF United Nations Office. She was named Hero of Las Vegas in 2001 for her work with Indigenous populations against US nuclear weapons development and nuclear waste dumping. Susi currently lives in Utrecht, the Netherlands with her husband and son.

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