PSPD in English Peace/Disarmament 2023-11-29   480

NGO statement on TPNW 2MSP

Participating in the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons(TPNW, 11/27-12/1) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy(PSPD) warned of the danger of nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula and called for international efforts to prevent armed conflict. The risk of nuclear war is considered to be the highest since the Cold War, and the role of the TPNW and its States Parties is more important than ever. Through various activities in New York, PSPD conveyed the views of South Korean civil society on peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula to the international community in detail.

Statement to the Second Meeting of States Parties
to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)

Delivered by Sooyoung Hwang
Center for Peace and Disarmament, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD)
29 November 2023, United Nations, New York

Your excellencies, delegates, and friends,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of South Korean NGO, PSPD. I’m from the Korean Peninsula, one of the highest risk regions for nuclear war on the planet.

In Northeast Asia, where I live, unfortunately most countries have not signed the TPNW yet. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. The unstable armistice has not ended yet, and military tensions have recently risen significantly again.

Currently, on the narrow peninsula, the ROK-US frequently conduct military exercises that are one of the largest in the world. These exercises involve both cases utilizing nuclear and non-nuclear forces. The DPRK is conducting a record number of missile tests, including ICBMs. Even more dangerous is the fact that the ROK-US military alliance and the DPRK have publicized and practiced a strategy of ‘preemptive strike’, which includes the use of nuclear weapons.

The Korean Peninsula has fallen into a typical security dilemma. The more governments focus on building a ‘deterrence’, the greater the risk of being attacked and the likelihood of accidental armed conflict. The level of threat is increasingly pushing towards the limit.

The 2018 inter-Korean military agreement was recently effectively scrapped. Last week, South Korea suspended some provisions of the military agreement in response to North Korea’s satellite launch, and North Korea announced that it would not honor the agreement. The inter-Korean military agreement has been the minimum safeguard against armed conflict in the border area for the past five years. Worse, all channels of communication between the two Koreas have been cut off. In such a situation, a misjudgment or mistake could lead to armed conflict, which could escalate to nuclear war.

The prospect of a ‘Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula’ is fading and the nuclear threat is growing. The space for peaceful cooperation is shrinking and factional confrontation is becoming fixed. As the ROK, US, and Japan confront the DPRK, China, and Russia in the Korean Peninsula and East Asia, there is a growing risk that the conflict will become entrenched, with the Military Demarcation Line(MDL) of Korea as the frontline. Four of these six countries have nuclear weapons. The other two rely on the ‘nuclear umbrella’ of the US.

I’d like to point to a new study that stands out in this regard. It’s the report about ‘Possible Nuclear Use Cases in Northeast Asia’ and ‘Humanitarian Impacts of it’ by APLN(Asia-Pacific Leadership Network), RECNA(Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University), and the Nautilus Institute.

The study simulates a detailed scenario in which nuclear weapons could be used in Northeast Asia. According to the report, in the worst case, nuclear conflicts resulting in millions of deaths and hundreds of thousands of cancer deaths. In addition, a range of economic, social and ecological impacts would also result from these use cases.

The report points out the following. A nuclear conflict based on regional issues can escalate to a global nuclear conflict within hours or days after the first use of nuclear weapons. Many of the plausible nuclear use cases have their genesis in misinterpretation of intentions and lack of communication between countries.

So, we must act now to prevent another catastrophe. We need early warning of possible armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula and nuclear war. The international community must unitedly call on the ROK, US, and the DPRK to immediately cease military threats against each other and restore channels of dialogue. The ROK and US, which have an overwhelming advantage in economic and military power over the DPRK, should take preemptive measures to reduce military threats. We cannot solve the problem by demonizing the DPRK and imposing sanctions and pressure. We should remember that the DPRK had maintained a moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests for 4 years while talks and negotiations were underway. Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can only be achieved through resolving the hostile relations and trust-building between the parties to the Korean War.

This will also create an enabling environment for the establishment of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Northeast Asia and all states in the region joining the TPNW. The spirit of the TPNW should be universalized to all countries that have not yet joined the treaty. The voices of us who are here now are more important than ever. Thank you for listening.

>> Click Here to download the statement
>> Click Here to see the Korean version

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