Washington, D.C. — September 19, 2017 — Addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, President Donald Trump threatened to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea and possibly abrogate the Iran nuclear agreement.

Kevin Martin, President of Peace Action and the Peace Action Education Fund, responded to the president’s speech, noting that “North Korea is a country of 25 million people. Its regime is odious, but Trump is putting out the fire with gasoline in threatening to obliterate an entire country. Such a threat contradicts the very mission of the UN. The threat to rip up the multilateral Iran nuclear agreement is also dangerous and irresponsible. Diplomacy, not inflammatory rhetoric, is needed to resolve the Korea nuclear crisis.”

Speaking to the timing President Trump’s threat, just one day before the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons opens for signature, Kevin Martin noted that “122 countries understand the need to move toward a world free of nuclear weapons, rather than threaten a regional war that could turn nuclear.”

The U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which prohibits countries from developing, testing, producing, acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening the use of nuclear weapons, was adopted with the support of 122 nations on July 7, 2017. The world’s nuclear-armed nations and some of their allies boycotted the vote. The treaty will enter into force 90 days after 50 or more countries have ratified, accepted, approved or acceded to it.

Paul Kawika Martin (no relation to Kevin Martin), senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, is in New York for the treaty signing and for a conference of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). Speaking to the nuclear weapons ban treaty’s opening for signature, Paul Kawika Martin called the occasion “an auspicious day for nuclear disarmament and for everyone who’d rather live without the threat of nuclear war—so presumably everyone.”

“Unfortunately, nuclear powers like the U.S. and Russia, who hold 95% of the world’s nuclear weapons, tend to preach international law when it suits them and ignore it when it doesn’t,” said Paul Kawika Martin. “Not only is the Trump administration planning to ignore the treaty, it’s actually accelerating plans to spend a projected $1.2 trillion over the next three decades expanding U.S. nuclear capabilities, all while chastising North Korea for its nuclear ambitions and violations of international law. Add onto that President Trump’s threat at the U.N. to ‘totally destroy North Korea,’ an act that would surely violate international law—the double standard is impossible to miss. This hypocrisy damages U.S. credibility and undermines prospects for nuclear diplomacy to freeze and roll back North Korea’s nuclear program.”

Acknowledging that the treaty won’t be able to compel the U.S. or other nuclear-armed nations to abandon their nuclear weapons, Paul Kawika Martin argued it still has tremendous value. “In countries that maintain nuclear weapons, the treaty’s entry into force will bolster efforts to improve nuclear weapons policies from within. For a majority of the world’s nations to go on record calling nuclear weapons illegal is a major blow to the nuclear status quo. Advocates for nuclear disarmament will soon be armed with the fact that our country’s nuclear arsenal violates international law. That’s a game changer.”


Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to international conflicts. The public may learn more and take action at http://www.PeaceAction.org.

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