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Issue #1797      October 4, 2017

No military “option”

Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe
Foreign Minister of Japan Taro Kono
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop

Copies by email to UNGA, US, DPRK, UN diplomatic missions.

Dear Kim Jong Un, President Moon, Senators, Representatives, and Secretaries of Defence and State:

The organisations listed are writing to urge you to adopt policies of dialogue and negotiation, rather than force, over the simmering crisis over North Korea’s missiles and nuclear weapons. It is our firm belief that not only is there no military option that does not at least risk the killing of millions of people, but that the use of military options – and especially the possible use of nuclear weapons by either side – opens up possibilities that could lead to utter catastrophe.

Negotiation without preconditions is in our view the only possible way forward. If such negotiations are engaged in, the US and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) should first of all mutually and patiently listen to the concerns of the other side, before responding with any proposals.

Language of threats on either side can only inflame the situation. Recent and continuing threats by either side are regrettable and counterproductive.

In negotiating, the US (and the DPRK) may have to set aside as entirely unrealistic, cherished goals they have maintained for decades which constitute stumbling blocks for the other side. The priority in any negotiated settlement should be to arrive at arrangements that both aides are at least prepared to live with, and not to impose the vision of either side on the other.

Even if the DPRK were not in possession of nuclear weapons at all, an attack on the DPRK would be likely to result in a massive artillery bombardment of Seoul, quite possibly including the use of chemical weapons. While that artillery might eventually be silenced, doing so would not be easy, and the resulting civilian casualties could start in the hundreds of thousands.

Ever since 1945, there has been an effective “taboo” on nuclear weapons use. Sometimes this taboo has come close to being breached, and on a distressingly large number of occasions the prospect of actual global thermonuclear war involving not one or two, but thousands, of warheads has been minutes away. Each time, the world has been delivered as if by a miracle.

The breaching of the nuclear “taboo”, and the subsequent incineration of potentially millions of people for whatever reason and under whatever provocation, would change the world into a place in which the use of nuclear weapons becomes thinkable and thus do-able.

In addition, a US attack on the DPRK with nuclear weapons, could provoke immediate responses from both Russia and China. We note that Russian air defences in the far east are already on high alert, and that China has already declared that, if the DPRK is attacked, it will intervene on the DPRKs behalf. If not already triggered, nuclear famine and nuclear winter would at this point become practically inevitable.

The fuse would have been lit for further conflict with nuclear peers themselves entirely capable of making rubble out of the USA – and of ending what we call civilisation in the process.

Of course, if conflict with the DPRK were to draw Russia and China into it in a more immediate way this process could take place in as short a time as a few hours.

It is hard to predict of course, exactly what will happen if a given course of action is followed. Nothing is predetermined. Outcomes might, or might not, be utterly apocalyptic.

We appeal to the US, South Korea and to the DPRK, as well as to Russia and China, to take every possible step to remove any nuclear option – which in this case means all military options – from the table, to do whatever is needful to take the temperature down, and to initiate an open ended and precondition-less process of dialogue aimed at bringing about mutually acceptable solutions of whatever kind, that will create stability and security for all concerned.

A variety of solutions have been proposed, notably that of a nuclear-weapons-free-zone in NE Asia. We are reluctant to prescribe any “specific” solution, as we see that this must arise out of a mutually respectful process of negotiation between the DPRK and the US. What is more important is that in engaging in this process each side listens to the other and is willing to meet the others concerns. Absent this, negotiations will sputter on or be abandoned. Yet it is only in negotiation that any hope of a solution lies. Military options – any military options – must be unconditionally rejected.

We welcome recent statements by Secretary of State Tillerson to the effect that there remains a possibility for talks. We call on the US to show restraint, and to engage in those talks without preconditions.

We suggest the following could be helpful:

  • The Call of the UN Secretary General and the European Union to assist in negotiations and the six-party talks;
  • That China, Japan, the DPRK, South Korea (RoK), Russia and the US consider options and modalities to turn the 1953 armistice into a permanent peace treaty;
  • Call on all parties to refrain from bellicose rhetoric and provocative (or potentially provocative) military exercises;
  • Oppose the pre-emptive use of force by any party.

We endorse the following statement by Federica Mogherini of the European Union:

We also endorse the following letter by representative Conyers and 64 Congress people: letter

We endorse the Abolition 2000 statement on a diplomatic solution to the North Korean crisis: statement


John Hallam, People for Nuclear Disarmament, Surry Hills NSW, Australia.
John Hallam, Human Survival Project, Forest Lodge, NSW, Australia.
Dr Ken Mc Nab, Centre for Peace with Justice, Sydney University, NSW, Australia.
Nick Deane, Marrickville Peace Group, Marrickville, NSW, Australia.
Denis Doherty, Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition, Surry Hills, NSW, Australia.
Gareth Smith, Palestine Liberation Centre, Byron Bay, NSW, Australia.
Annette Brownlie, Just Peace, Queensland, Australia.
Senator Lee Rhiannon, Greens, NSW, Australia.
Barbara O’Dwyer, President, Womens International League for Peace and Freedom Australia, (WILPF).
Rt Hon Jim Bolger, Prime Minister of New Zealand (1990-1997).
Chris Steains, General Director, Soka Gakkai International, Australia.
Chris Hamer, Assoc Prof, Scientists for Global Responsibility, Sydney, Australia.
Jo Vallentine/Judy Blyth, People for Nuclear Disarmament WA, Perth, Australia.
Alyn Ware, Basel Peace Office, Basel, Switzerland.
Roland Gardien, Mouvement Pour la Paix, Savoie, France.
Aaron Tovish, Zona Libre, Mexico.
Lisa Pelletti Clark, Co-President, International Peace Bureau, Geneva, Switzerland.
Kobayashi Tatsuo, 2nd Generation Survivor, Hiroshima, Japan-Asia-Africa-Latin America Solidarity Committee.
Dr Ichiro Yuasa, Vice-Pres, Peace Depot, Yokohama, Japan.
Hajime Matsukubo, Citizens Nuclear Information Centre (CNIC), Akenobashi Co-Op, Sumiyoshi-Cho, Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo, Japan.
Joan Russow, Global Compliance Research Project, Canada.
Joan Russow, Vancouver Island Peace and Disarmament Network (VIPDN), Canada.
Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CARES, Livermore, California, USA.
Brian Owen Toon, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado,USA.
Stephen Soldz, Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, Boston, USA.
Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, Asia Pacific Leadership Network, India.
Sukla Sen, EKTA, Mumbai, India.
General Jehangir Karamat, (ret) Spearhead Research, Lahore, Pakistan.
John Scales Avery, PhD, Chairman, Danish National Group, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.

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