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.