Photo: Model of a Unha-9 rocket on display at a floral exhibition in Pyongyang, 30 August 2013 | Credit: Steve Herman – VOA - Wikimedia Commons

North Korea’s Defiance Underlines the Urgency to Eradicate All Nuclear Weapons

NEW YORK (IDN) – North Korea defied world powers, on January 6, by announcing that it had successfully tested a miniaturized hydrogen nuclear device – in contravention of the international norm against nuclear testing.

The miniaturizing allows the device to be placed on a missile thereby significantly increasing its strike capabilities not only against Japan and South Korea but also against the United States.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “This test, once again, violates numerous Security Council resolutions despite the united call by the international community to cease such activities.”

North Korea has been under UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions since it first tested an atomic device in 2006. As in the past, the UNSC unanimously condemned this reprehensible act, which destabilizes regional security.

North Korea said that it would not give up its nuclear program as long as the United States maintained what it called “its stance of aggression”. It vowed not to use its nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty was infringed.

Presidential candidates seize opportunity

Being a presidential election year, Republican presidential candidates took the opportunity to blame President Barack Obama that his foreign policy for North Korea’s nuclear arms activities has failed.

Among the critics, Senator Marco Rubio said that “North Korea is run by a lunatic who has been expanding his nuclear arsenal while President Obama has stood idly by”, and that this is “the latest example of the failed Obama-Clinton foreign policy”.

Republican front-runner candidate Donald Trump urged “China to rein in its ally or face repercussions on trade”, and Governor Chris Christie cited a weak response from Obama and Clinton to North Korea’s previous nuclear tests, and said that “they have just not acted strongly at all around the world”.

Do these statements imply that the Obama administration failed to bomb the hell out of North Korea?

The legitimacy to attack another country

The Republican presidential candidates unfairly criticize Obama’s foreign policy forgetting the fact the United States and the United Nations have repeatedly enforced sanctions against belligerent North Korea.

Sanctions are not the panacea for all ills but they proved effective in the case of Iran. After decades of economic sanctions, Iran, the United States and five other world powers reached a landmark agreement that will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

It is hypocritical to blame others knowing well that no world power has any right to attack and destroy another country simply because it developed its nuclear military capabilities in order to defend itself from external threats.

Any military strike by one country, based merely on its own judgment, against another sovereign country is a gross violation of international law and is certainly against the UN Charter which clearly states that the use of force is not legitimate unless authorized by the Security Council or in self-defence – that is, only after a direct attack.

Nuclear Proliferation

Nuclear weapons are the most inhumane and dangerous weapons on earth which can annihilate whole cities, potentially killing millions, and destroying the natural environment and lives of future generations through its long-term catastrophic effects.

At the creation of the UN in 1945, the United States was the only nation in the world to own and use nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In 1970, the UN Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty was signed by 190 nations, including five nations that admitted to owning nuclear weapons: China, France, the now-defunct Soviet Union (Russia), United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Despite this treaty, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea became nuclear states. Together, they possess more than 15,000 nuclear weapons. USA and Russia maintain roughly 1,800 of their nuclear weapons on high-alert status – ready to be launched within minutes of a warning.

Since 1945, at least eight nations have detonated 2,053 nuclear test explosions around the world to proof-test new warhead designs and create increasingly sophisticated nuclear weapons.

Nuclear arms race continues

According to a report by Global Research, the United States is going to deploy 20 modernized B61-12 nuclear bombs in Germany, each 80 times more destructive than the one used on Hiroshima.

These would eventually replace the 180 B61s held in six bases in five countries – Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey. In addition, France and the United Kingdom also maintain state-owned nuclear arsenals.

Following the United States decision to deploy these lethal nuclear weapons and NATO’s expansion to Russia’s borders, Russia immediately began to upgrade its air defence system and its strategic nuclear arsenal as a retaliatory and a precautionary measure.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that “Russia obviously retains the right if needed to deploy its nuclear weapons anywhere on its national territory, including on the Crimean Peninsula.”

In December 2015, Russia’s Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, said that, in 2014, its Military received 35 new intercontinental ballistic missiles, 243 aircraft, 90 air defence systems and 1,172 tanks and other armoured vehicles as part of an ambitious arms modernization effort.

Shoigu said that its Navy received two new nuclear-powered submarines equipped with intercontinental ballistic missiles, two general-purpose submarines and eight surface warships.

So, the nuclear arms race continues – preparing for mutual annihilation.

World War III: Nuclear Holocaust

A Nuclear War (the exchange of nuclear weapons between two or more states) is still possible as the power hungry war-mongers do not care about the disastrous consequences that nuclear weapons can unleash on humanity – from mutual annihilation to the freezing of this earth.

Volumes have been written about the necessity, morality and consequences of the use of nuclear weapons. Though our world today is full of geo-political conflicts that cause constant sabre rattling, it is most unlikely that any sane world leader would resort to the use of deadly nuclear weapons.

However, a nuclear war could be triggered by a pure technical accident to an intentional strike by a deranged officer, a terrorist or a cyber attack –regardless of multiple mechanisms in place to avoid such a catastrophe.

The ONLY solution: a nuclear-weapon-free world

With conflicts and wars raging all over our world, all world leaders and peace loving citizens should focus on developing a new concept of international security under the auspices of the United Nations – to guide the world towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.

American Presidents have spoken about the need to abolish nuclear weapons. For example, John Kennedy said that these nuclear weapons “must be abolished before they abolish us”; Ronald Reagan said “We must never stop at all until we see the day when nuclear arms have been banished from the face of the Earth”; and in a 2009 Prague speech, Barack Obama vowed “concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons”.

Since those lofty words, the United States has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to upgrade its nuclear weapons.

The UN General Assembly voted on December 8, 2015 to set up a working group that will develop “legal measures, legal provisions and norms” for achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world.

At the UN, 144 states declared that in the interests of humanity, nuclear weapons are never used again “under any circumstances”, and 132 states described nuclear weapons as “inherently immoral”.

Five of the nine nuclear-armed nations – China, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and France – opposed this UN action spuriously claiming that “An instrument such as a ban” would “undermine the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] regime”. A nonsensical excuse!

President Truman said, “The responsibility of the great states is to serve and not dominate the peoples of the world.”

It is time for people to act as the only guarantee against the spread and use of nuclear weapons is to eliminate them.

*Somar Wijayadasa was a UNESCO delegate to the UN General Assembly for ten consecutive years from 1985-1995, and was Representative of UNAIDS at the United Nations from 1995-2000. For his previous IDN articles, please click here. [IDN-InDepthNews – 8 January 2016]

Photo: Model of a Unha-9 rocket on display at a floral exhibition in Pyongyang, 30 August 2013 | Credit: Steve Herman – VOA – Wikimedia Commons

IDN is flagship of International Press Syndicate.

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