Over the past weeks, the tensions between North Korea and the United States reached a new high. Both countries have threatened with interventions and are preparing their militaries. The most prominent reason for the tensions is the North Korean program for the development of nuclear weapons. PAX has warned before that the North Korean nuclear tests could lead to a new nuclear arms race. PAX calls for a focus on a diplomatic solution and multilateral negotiations, including the negotiations for a worldwide prohibition of nuclear weapons, to deescalate present tensions.
It is clear that North Korea and the US will not find a solution for the conflict among themselves. Therefore, there should be a focus on a diplomatic solution with broad support. Negotiations in which multiple countries are involved can lead to de-escalation of the conflict and increase security in the region. Next to North Korea’s traditional ally China, a neutral country could contribute to a solution. We can learn something from previous negotiations on nuclear weapon programs, such as the deal with Iran.
Nuclear weapons are inhumane and cause catastrophes when used. It is the only weapon of mass destruction which has not been prohibited by an international treaty. At this moment, negotiations have started at the United Nations to ban nuclear weapons, and the number of countries supporting this ban is increasing. During the first round of negotiations at the UN, most countries emphasized that the ban on nuclear weapons will complement and strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT obliges all member states, including nuclear weapon states, to negotiate about nuclear disarmament.
Even when North Korea is developing nuclear weapons, we have to carry on with the prohibition of nuclear weapons. As long as there are countries with nuclear weapons, other countries will try to acquire them too. The risks of nuclear weapons are enormous: when used on purpose, but also when accidentally detonating or falling into the wrong hands, the effects are immense. By prohibiting nuclear weapons, conflicts as these can be avoided. Also if some countries will not support a prohibition, it will send a clear message: the time of nuclear weapons is over.
PAX is present at the preparatory sessions for the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT PrepCom) and the UN negotiations on a nuclear weapon prohibition.
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Read more about the ban on nuclear weapons here.