“The Only Realistic Option”
On June 28, 2017, six experts on North Korea including former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former Secretary of State George Shultz sent a letter to President Trump expressing their belief that diplomacy is “the only realistic option to reduce dangers resulting from the current high state of tensions and prevent North Korea’s ongoing development and potential use of nuclear weapons.”
The successful nuclear agreement with Iran is a prime example of the efficacy of nuclear diplomacy, even with an adversary. Since it’s implementation in January 2016, the Iran accord has been keeping us safe by verifiably blocking all of Iran’s potential pathways to obtaining nuclear weapons. The same focused diplomacy could and should be applied to talks with North Korea.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration seems to have put diplomacy on the back burner, opting instead for dangerous threats of preemptive military force, and more coercive sanctions. While sanctions can play a role in encouraging a country to come to the negotiating table, they also have a terrible track record in getting countries to change their behavior without a serious diplomatic effort behind them. That was the case with Iran for example, which significantly increased its uranium enrichment during a decade-long sanctions ramp up. Military posturing and threats are even less effective, and lead to reciprocal threats and escalations that increase the risk of accidental and intentional conflict.
Such a conflict should be avoided at all costs. Even a limited military strike would very likely lead to all out war with North Korea, which would imperil millions of lives. South Korea’s capital city of Seoul and the surrounding area has a population of roughly 25 million people, who are all in range of North Korea’s significant artillery. A study from 2012 estimated that 64,000 people could be killed by artillery in the first day of fighting. The U.S. has roughly 28,500 soldiers stationed in South Korea, some of whom would be in range of the North’s artillery, and many of whom would be called upon to fight. Since much of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is hidden, a preemptive strike would very likely fail to take out all of the North’s nuclear capabilities, so North Korea could decide to retaliate with nuclear weapons.
It’s time to try diplomacy without preconditions. Successful diplomacy is about open-minded dialogue, not making demands. Offering to come to the negotiating table does not validate North Korea’s nuclear program or condone its behavior, but it does open the possibility that we can put a pause on North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, and perhaps down the road, work towards denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Peace Action is lobbying Congress, helping to shape the media narrative, and mobilizing grassroots activists to support diplomacy and oppose war with North Korea. Click here to take action today and urge your members of Congress to join our call for direct diplomacy with North Korea, and against further threats of war.
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 […]
This article was originally published by Peace Voice. With North Korea’s alarming escalation of its nuclear weapons and missile programs, humanity faces our most dire nuclear situation since the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. We narrowly, and most historians agree it was mostly matter of luck, averted catastrophe then, and there have been many […]
This article was originally published on Huffington Post. The Trump administration’s recent mixed messages could well be causing a global outbreak of whiplash. On one day the Secretary of State takes to the airwaves and calls for bringing “Pyongyang to the negotiating table to begin a dialogue,” on another day the Secretary of Defense threatens a “massive […]
This article was originally published on Huffington Post. The roller coaster of U.S.-North Korea tensions is at a relative low ebb after weeks of rhetorical nuclear brinksmanship between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. That this dip in tension comes during the long-planned Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises shows just how tense things had become. Starting Monday the U.S. […]
Today, 62 House representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to do what he can to rein in President Trump’s recklessness on North Korea. The effort was spearheaded by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). In the letter, the signers offer their support for Tillerson’s recent statements calling for talks: “We strongly […]
Washington, D.C. — August 8, 2017 — In response to reports that North Korea may have achieved the capability to miniaturize nuclear weapons and mount them on its missiles, and in response to President Trump’s belligerent threat that more aggression from North Korea will be met with “fire and fury,” Jon Rainwater, Executive Director of […]
Washington, D.C. — August 4, 2017 — On August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped the first nuclear bomb ever used in war on the city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 80,000 people instantly. On August 9, the U.S. dropped a second nuclear bomb on Nagasaki, killing another 70,000 mostly civilians. By December of 1945, most […]
Washington, D.C. — July 13, 2017 — On the eve of the two-year anniversary of the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) commonly known as the Iran nuclear agreement, and in response to reports that the administration plans to recertify Iran’s full compliance with the JCPOA, Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs […]
This article was originally published on ANewMap.com. By Martin Hellman The media tells us that nuclear diplomacy with North Korea is a waste of time, as do most high officials from every recent US administration. But easily verifiable facts show otherwise. The most important data point: North Korea did not do its first nuclear test until […]
Washington, D.C. — April 13, 2017 — Going beyond Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statement last month that preemptive military action against North Korea was “on the table,” senior intelligence officials are now saying that the administration is prepared to launch a preemptive military strike against North Korea should it become convinced that North Korea […]