PSPD asks the positions of the Korean government on Nuclear Disarmament
- 2009.08.20 (17:24:00)
We ask the Intentions and Positions on Nuclear Disarmament and Nuclear Non-proliferation of the Korean Government
1. The Korean Government's Position and Problems on Disarmament and Nuclear Non-proliferation
Now more than ever, military crisis on the Korean peninsula has reached its most severe state. Despite the crisis, it is required for nations in the region to render their assistance for progress on disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation as one of the world's most intense armament race and conflict concerning nuclear weapon development is taking place in the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia. So far, the Korean government has emphasized the importance of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation including the prohibition of development and use of nuclear weapons. It has also expressed its willingness to cooperate with international community regarding these matters.
In the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Review Conference(NPT PrepCom), held in United Nations Headquarters in New York last May, the Korean government has emphasized confidence building measures through practical nuclear disarmament progress by nuclear powers and nuclear non-proliferation efforts by non- nuclear powers. In addition, the government has supported non-nuclear powers' negative security assurances in order to eliminate threats of nuclear danger and also has stressed the significance of Nuclear Weapons Free Zone(NWFZ) as a practical measure towards acquisition of security assurance from nuclear powers. (Reference: http://blog.peoplepower21.org/Peace/30809)
However, the Korean government's voting patterns on resolutions regarding nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation in the United Nations General Assembly, analyzed and organized by PSPD make people doubtful on the government's position. According to the review by the Center for Peace and Disarmament of PSPD on voting patterns of the Republic of Korea, nuclear power nations such as permanent member states of United Nations Security Council and other Northeast Asian nations in the First Committee and in the General Assembly from 2003 to 2008, the Korean government has demonstrated its position as 'abstaining' and has taken an ambiguous and contradicting attitude rather than asserting 'in favor' or 'sponsor' to many of the resolutions regarding nuclear disarmament.
First, looking at the characteristics of the Korean government's voting patterns during the last 6 years, abstentions were the most frequent in the field of nuclear weapons such as limitations on development and use of nuclear weapons, increased transparency and practical reduction of nuclear weapons. For example, in 2008, out of 55 resolutions and 3 decisions which were adopted by the first committee of the United Nations, excluding those that were adopted without vote, the Korean government have voted 'in favor' for 18, 'against' for none, and 'as abstaining' for 11 resolutions or decisions. Among those resolutions, 8 abstentions were related to nuclear weapons.
Second, the Korean government have shown the tendency of voting abstentions to resolutions that were sponsored by non-aligned nations and constantly blackballed by major Western countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, depending on occasions. A typical example of such actions are the abstentions by the Korean government to resolutions such as 'Conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons', 'Reducing nuclear danger', 'Nuclear disarmament', 'Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons', and 'Follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons.' This tendency raises doubts whether the Korean government is free from the interests of nuclear powers such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France etc., and whether it is actually willing to support a multilateral approach towards nuclear disarmament.
Third, it was found that the government's consistent abstentions were not temporary but in fact, repetitive. The United States, United Kingdom, France, Israel and other nuclear power countries have consistently shown their oppositions to resolutions that prohibit the use of nuclear weapons and urges practical nuclear disarmament. In this situation, the government of Republic of Korea, which is a non-nuclear power nation, have been continuously abstained from voting rather than supporting or urging nuclear disarmament.
Such attitude of the Korean government is giving an impression that the Republic of Korea is either passive in urging practical nuclear disarmament, including prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons by nuclear powers like the United States, or it is not participating vigorously in the efforts towards nuclear disarmament by international society. In addition, as the United States is opposed to most resolutions concerning nuclear weapons and armament in outer space including nuclear powers' complete elimination or prohibition of use of nuclear weapons, ratification of Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty(CTBT), and prevention of an arms race in space, it does not seem irrelevant to the Korean government's wish to be protected under the nuclear umbrella which includes the guarantee of nuclear deterrence from the United States.
If these are the reasons behind the Korean government's passive and negative attitude towards nuclear disarmament, the Korean government cannot avoid criticism that it is blocking the progress of international society's efforts for nuclear disarmament. Participating in the efforts to complete elimination of nuclear weapons is not only the responsibilities of nuclear powers, but also the ones of countries which are under the protection of nuclear umbrellas.
Eventually, it is difficult to say that the Republic of Korea has expressed consistent principles and positions based on multilateralism, urging the international society to take further steps in practical nuclear disarmament in discussions on the issues of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation in the United Nations. Furthermore, the fact that the government has stipulated the extended nuclear deterrent through ROK-U.S. summit meeting and has attempted to revise the Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Government of the United States of America concerning Civil Uses of Atomic Energy’, which as a matter of fact would incapacitate the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, raise more worries. Therefore, the Korean government should make it clear whether the positions on nuclear disarmament that it presented at the NPT PrepCom this year are realized in the actual diplomatic scene.
Hence, PSPD would like to ask the principles and positions of the Korean government on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation and what efforts have been made in the international society to achieve them.
2. Regarding the Korean government’s positions on abstentions to the United Nations nuclear disarmament resolutions
31% of all resolutions/decisions on disarmament in the UN General Assembly are relevant to Nuclear Weapons, which is where the Korean government has voted the most abstentions. Although the Korean government did not oppose to nuclear disarmament related resolutions, its consistent abstentions may be assumed to be the attitude of an onlooker, a passive or even a negative participant in the international society.
1) What is the principle and position of the Korean government on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament?
2) Resolution "Conclusion of effective international arrangement to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons" is intended to assure the security of non-nuclear-weapon states and to make legally binding force against the use of threat of nuclear weapons of nuclear-weapon states. For your information, India and Japan agreed to the resolution, while the U.S. not to. Why did the Korean government abstain from the resolution?
3) Resolution "Decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems" calls for decreasing the operational status since it can increase the risk of the unintentional of accidental use of such weapons to catastrophic disaster, to maintain nuclear weapons on high alert. What is the reason the Korean government refused to vote on this resolution?
4) Resolution "Nuclear disarmament" reaffirms the principles and goals of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and includes specific commitments on the nuclear disarmament and total elimination of nuclear-weapon States. It also underlines the thirteen practical phases derived from the 2000 NPT conference. For your information, North Korean agreed to this resolution. Why did South Korea abstain from this resolution?
5) Resolution "Reducing nuclear danger" includes the demand that five nuclear-weapons States need to adopt measures to reduce nuclear dangers. Can you tell us the reason why the Korean government voted to abstain from the resolution?
6) Resolution "Convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons" focuses on the total prohibition of development, storage, and use of nuclear weapons. Why did the Korean government choose to abstain from this resolution?
7) The Korean government maintained to be abstained from the resolution "Missiles", including the control of the missiles, a carriage of weapons of mass destructions, except for the UN General Assembly vote held in 2005. Is there any particular reason to agreed the resolution in 2005? Or is there any reason to consistently abandon the vote to the resolution? The abstention contradicts the attitude of the Korean government that it has denunciated the missile launch of North Korea and called to strengthen the level of punishment to the United Nations. What would be the governments' position on 'Missiles'?
8) Resolution "United Nations conference to identify appropriate ways of eliminating nuclear dangers in the context of nuclear disarmament (decision)" decides to include in the provisional agenda of its 64th session the item in the context of nuclear disarmament. What is the reason the Korean government abstained from this resolution?
9) In the advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice reserved the judgement on the legality of the use or threat of nuclear weapons under extreme conditions undermining self-defense (July 8 1996). Resolution "Follow-up to the advisory opinion of the ICJ on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons" reminds the advice as well as emphasizes for nuclear-weapon States to carry out obligation of nuclear disarmament. What is the reason the Korean government abstained from the resolution?
3. Concerning South Korea's nuclear policy such as nuclear umbrella and NPT(Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty)
10) According to its cote tendency concerning nuclear arms, the Korean government mostly abstained, except for a few, the resolutions, which were against or abstained by the United States and the United Kingdom. This can be read that Korea has not made active demand for nuclear disarmament of official nuclear weapons states. What is the viewpoint of the Korean government on nuclear disarmament and complete abrogation of nuclear weapons by Nuclear Weapons States?
11) In the ROK-U.S. summit held in last June, both have reiterated to strengthen nuclear deterrence through the nuclear umbrella. For your information, the nuclear umbrella is premised on the possibility of the use of nuclear arms. Then, is that the reason to abstain several resolutions on nuclear disarmament like banning the use of nuclear weapons because Korea is provided nuclear umbrella by the United States? In this case, the Korean government can be denounced that the member of the U.S' Nuclear umbrella interferes international efforts to nuclear disarmament. What is the government's official opinion on the situation?
12) In the Preparatory Committee of NPT held in last May, the government said as follows :
"It is an obligation of the member states, especially nuclear-weapons-states to enter into an effective negotiation to implement the role settled in the sixth article of the NPT and to lead nuclear disarmament as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon suggested in the "Five Proposals" in the last September... Only voluntary nuclear disarmament by the nuclear weapons state can grant Korea moral authority and political legitimacy calling non-nuclear-weapons states for strengthening the rule of nuclear non-proliferation. It is critical to recover mutual faith by showing the efforts of non-nuclear-weapons states to non-proliferation but also by making practical progress of nuclear haves in terms of nuclear disarmament."
However, the Korean government has consistently abstained from major resolutions including measures to abrogate nuclear weapons of nuclear-weapons-states. Why is there cacophony between the comments in the NPT conference and the position upon the resolutions of nuclear disarmament?
13) In the preparatory conference of NPT held in last May, the Korean government emphasized the importance of establishing the NWFZ(Nuclear Weapons Free Zone) as a practical way to assure the security of non-nuclear-weapon States against nuclear-weapon States. However, the Korean government demanded that the U.S. provide nuclear umbrella and stipulated it in texts which contradicts its comment on made in the preparatory conference. What is the position of the government on this matter?
14) Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade recently announced to revise 'the Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Government of the United States of America concerning Civil Uses of Atomic Energy' to have commercial benefits by re-processing of nuclear wastes. However, because the nuclear reprocessing can lead to the production of nuclear materials, few countries are allowed to do so. Gaining commercial benefit by re-processing nuclear wastes has little background. Above all, the reprocess undermines the principle of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and runs counter to the efforts of the international community to disarmament. Furthermore, it can be viewed as a political response against North Korea's trial to nuclear weapons tests and reprocess. What is the position of the government on this matter?
4. Concerning non-proliferation and multilateral approach on the nuclear disarmament
15) The Korean government abstained from resolution "Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation" in last year's UN General Assembly, and the U.S. did not agree to it. The resolution affirms to deal with arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament under the principle of multilateralism. It especially urges for discussion and cooperation to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, but warns states not to act unilaterally. What is the reason the Korean government abstained from the resolution?
16) the Korean government had hesitated to take part in PSI(Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation Security Initiative) led by the U.S., but finally announced that it would enter into the initiative after nuclear tests were conducted in North Korea. Why the Korean government is actively willing to participate in the PSI, while it abstained from the above resolution?
5. Concerning the efforts of the government to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in the international community
17) The UN Disarmament Committee is scheduled to be held this October. Considering some forecasts that the U.S. President Obama would not maintain the former unilateral positions concerning the nuclear disarmament, which position will the Korean government take in the new political condition?
18) In the long run, what efforts has the Korean government made in the UN to lead the elimination of nuclear weapons of nuclear-weapon States?
19) Does the Korean government have an agenda or plan to address the issue of disarmament and the establishment of NWFZ in the Korean Peninsula?