The International Progress Organization welcomes the Presidential Statement of the United Nations Security Council, issued on 29 August 2017, affirming the Council’s continued “commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula” and its call for a “peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue.”
Recalling the joint declaration of NGOs of 14 July 2003, co-sponsored by the International Progress Organization, concerning the Korean conflict and the threat of nuclear proliferation, we reiterate our position that a policy of economic sanctions, such as the one pursued by the Security Council, will only victimize the civilian population, but will not produce the expected results. The series of escalating punitive measures imposed by the Council on North Korea since 2006 has led to increased tensions, making negotiations more difficult. After repeated nuclear and missile tests by North Korea and a series of large-scale military maneuvers between the United States and South Korea, accompanied by bellicose statements from both sides, an accident or miscalculation may trigger all-out military confrontation, with devastating consequences for both, North and South Korea, as well as Japan.
Calls for a negotiated settlement – as those repeatedly issued by the Security Council – will only be credible if all sides abstain from further provocative measures and if the Council itself addresses the core issue of the crisis: the unresolved conflict, and division of the country, resulting from the Korean War of 1950-1953. It is to be recalled that, in the absence of a peace treaty, the Armistice Agreement of 27 July 1953 is still in force.
In order to be able to rationally analyze the situation and come up with viable proposals for compromise, one has to be aware of the historical facts and understand the chain of events that led to the present crisis. According to Paragraph 13(d) of the Armistice Agreement jointly signed by U.S. General William K. Harrison, Jr. (on behalf of the United Nations Command) and General Nam Il (on behalf of the Korean People’s Army and the Chinese People’s Volunteers), no “reinforcing combat aircraft, armored vehicles, weapons, and ammunition” must be “introduced” into Korea. The United States unilaterally abrogated this provision, effectively violating the Treaty, and, in the course of 1958/1959 deployed nuclear armed missiles and atomic cannons in South Korea. This violation of international law was at the origin of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. As part of President George H. W. Bush’s “Presidential Nuclear Initiative” the United States, in 1991, withdrew tactical nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula. This was followed by the “Joint Declaration of South and North Korea on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” entered into force on 19 February 1992. According to Article 1 of the Declaration, “South and North Korea shall not test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons.”
However, the provisions of this Declaration have remained dead letter. In spite of its public commitment, North Korea secretly continued its nuclear program. Increasing tensions and mistrust have now brought about a situation in which a nuclear-armed North Korea openly challenges the United States, the major nuclear power.
In spite of ever-tougher sanctions imposed by the Security Council since 15 July 2006, the ongoing dispute has eluded diplomatic compromise, following instead the logic of deterrence. The fact that countries such as Iraq and Libya, having abandoned their nuclear ambitions, became victims of regime change has made the situation on the Korean Peninsula even more intractable. In the absence of confidence on all sides, nuclear deterrence appears to some to be the only option. While North Korea, undeterred by Security Council resolutions, continues with the development of its nuclear and missile capabilities, the United States, on the basis of the Mutual Defense Treaty, has assured South Korea of the “continuation of the extended deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella” (Joint Communiqué, 38th Security Consultative Meeting between the United States and South Korea, Washington DC, 20 October 2006).
Under these circumstances, determined by international realpolitik, and not by normative considerations, a credible policy of peace must take note, as repulsive as this may seem, of the mechanisms of deterrence before an avenue towards dialogue can be opened. We must not be ignorant of the fact that, in spite of all the lip service paid to the cause of nuclear disarmament, major nuclear powers that are State Parties of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Arms (NPT) so far have not made credible steps towards nuclear disarmament, as called for under Article VI of the Treaty, and have not even acceded to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
To make the demands on North Korea for dismantling its nuclear weapons credible, confidence-building measures on the basis of mutuality – or reciprocity – are indispensable. As long as a sense of insecurity prevails, there is no chance for meaningful, and rational, negotiations. (This has also become painfully obvious in the failure of the project, under the NPT, to make the Middle East a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.) Whether on the Korean peninsula or in other regions, nuclear disarmament cannot be undertaken on a unilateral basis. It must be comprehensive, including the dismantling of the North Korean capabilities as well as the elimination of the U.S. nuclear umbrella for South Korea. This must eventually lead to an end of security alliances on both sides and to a joint commitment of both, North and South Korea, to a foreign policy of neutrality.
In addition to coercive measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the “comprehensive approach” called for by the Security Council must include these wider political aspects. •
* Hans Köchler is the President of the International Progress Organization (I.P.O.), a non-governmental organisation in consultative status with the United Nations; he was appointed as International Observer of the “Lockerbie Trial” by the then Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan.
Source: http://i-p-o.org/IPO-nr-Korea-nuclear_crisis-30Aug2017.htm Vienna, 30 August 2017/26574c-is
cc. On 6 September, President of the Swiss Confederation Doris Leuthard, has brought Switzerland into play as a venue for the parties to the conflict with regard to the Korea crisis, as she told foreign journalists: “I think it really is time for dialogue. Big powers have a responsibility.“ (www.srf.ch/news/international/ from 6 September 2017)
In an interview, former Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey, as a former head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, spoke out firmly in favour of mediations with Swiss support. One could take an initiative role similar to the successful nuclear negotiations with Iran. (Tagesschau srf from 6 September 2017)
Time and again, Switzerland, in her tradition of good services and as a neutral state, can build bridges or mitigate conflicts between foreign powers in intensified or frozen conflicts.
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