Asia Pacific nuclear policy leaders, meeting this week at Jeju in the Republic of Korea, have highlighted the substantial threats that continue to be posed by the existence of nuclear weapons, the growth int heir numbers, and the possibility of their proliferation in a region faced with multiple conflicts and land and maritime border disputes.
They deplored the fourth nuclear test and continued ballistic missile provocations by North Korea since the fifth meeting of theAPLN in Hiroshima in August 2015.The APLN again calls on global and regional policymakers to urgently re-energize the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament agenda. The core issues remain:
– the challenge of regional nuclear andballistic missile proliferation;
– rising nuclear weapon numbers in the AsiaPacific;
– the continued heavy reliance on nucleardeterrence in national security policy by the nuclear ‘haves’, and of thoseprotected by nuclear umbrellas;
– nuclear security in an age of terrorism; and
– nuclear safety as key regional countries seekenergy security.
The world’s stockpile of 15,000 nuclear weapons puts anincreasing focus on the Asia Pacific. Despite the reduction in total stockssince the height of the Cold War, the United States and Russia still accountfor about 95% of the world’s nuclear weapons stockpiles – which still have thedestructive power of over 100,000 Hiroshima sized bombs. China, India, andPakistan all are having significant and growing arsenals, and the breakoutstate of North Korea continues to build its weapons and delivery capability. Noother region of the world has to manage the complexity of so many nuclearactors in one geopolitical space. Yet the Asia-Pacific region has littleexperience and lacks any institutions for managing nuclear threats. Indeed weconfront the contradictory situation that while nuclear weapons are assuming anever-increasing prominence in regional strategic doctrines, nuclear issuesapparently fail to appear on the agendas of bilateral or multilateral meetingsof the region’s political leaders. The meeting warmly welcomed the imminent visitof US President Obama to Hiroshima and expressed the hope that President Obamawill make a clear statement there acknowledging the horrifying humanitarian impactof any nuclear weapons, and reaffirming his 2009 Prague vision of a world freeof the existence and threat of use of nuclear weapons as an achievableobjective.
We reaffirm the recommendations made in our 2015 HiroshimaDeclaration for:
– major further reductions in the stockpiles of nuclearweapons in US and Russian arsenals;
– a freeze in the numbers of Asia-Pacificand other nuclear weapons-possessing states;
– no development or deployment ofbattlefield tactical nuclear weapons;
– dramatically reducing the role ofnuclear weapons in security policies across the region, including throughcommitments of ‘no-first use’ and the provision of unequivocal ‘negativesecurity assurances’ that no non-nuclear weapon state would ever be attackedwith nuclear weapons;
– for Russia and the US to reduce and eliminate numbersof nuclear weapons on dangerously high alert and for no other country to putany of their nuclear weapons on high alert;
– to avoid the stability-degradingeffects of ballistic missile defence and conventional prompt global strikedevelopments;
– progress in bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear TestBan Treaty.
Our ultimate objective must be a comprehensive anduniversal Nuclear Weapons Convention prohibiting nuclear weapons, backed byeffective verification and enforcement.
We call on the nuclear armed states to lead byexample. We also call on those states sheltering under the umbrella of anuclear power to back their professed commitments to nuclear disarmament bytaking steps to minimise their reliance on nuclear deterrence, in particular bymaking it clear that they will not rely on nuclear weapons to respond to non-nuclear threat contingencies.
Asia Pacific states must work to denuclearise theKorean peninsula by a combination of strategies to contain and deter whilebeing open to opportunities for dialogue and negotiation. Recalling the JointComprehensive Plan of Action to successfully address Iran’s nuclear program,the APLN calls for a similar structure of incentives that combines inducementswith penalties in a negotiated process to engage with and end North Korea’snuclear weapons program and activities.
The 4th Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on 1April charted several new directions for continued international efforts todeny terrorists access to nuclear materials that might be used for nuclearweapons or radiological devices. The APLN urges all Asia Pacific countries to:
– join as soon as possible all relevantinternational legal instruments governing the protection of nuclear materials
– improve national nuclear theft and sabotageprecautions, and
– avail themselves of international support servicesand peer reviews.
Nuclear power is expanding more rapidly in Asia thanelsewhere, meeting an ever-growing demand for energy. This year marks the 30thanniversary of the tragic accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, and the 5th anniversary of the powerful earthquake and tsunami to hit Japan which triggered the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The safe management of all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle will remain critical. APLN encourages the adoption by all countries in the region of international best-practice nuclear safety standards.
The Asia Pacific continues to grow as the world’seconomic powerhouse. But it is also a region of rapidly growing militaryassets, including most regrettably nuclear arms. We urge the ARF MinisterialMeeting and the EAS summit process to demonstrate new thinking on how to reduceregional nuclear risks by effective and collaborative action to freeze andreduce the numbers of nuclear warheads; minimize doctrinal reliance on, anddeployment practices of, nuclear weapons; stigmatize the role of nuclearweapons; and build steps to their ultimate abolition.
The members of the APLN rededicated themselves to thetireless pursuit of these goals through engagement with regional governmentsand civil society, and through producing targeted publications and research.
The 6th meeting of the APLN was held in Jeju, R.O.K. on24 May 2016, co-chaired by the Co- Convenors:
– Chung-in Moon, Professor of Political Scienceat Yonsei University and Editor-in-Chief of Global Asia
– Ramesh Thakur, Professor and Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, Australian National University, former Vice Rector/Senior Vice Rector United Nations University(1998–2007) and UN Assistant Secretary-General.
KOREAN PARTICIPANTS (8)
Myung-bok Bae, Senior Editorial Writer, JoongAngIlbo
Yungwoo Chun, Chairman, The Korean PeninsulaFuture Forum
Yong-soo Hwang, Senior Researcher, Korea Instituteof Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Control
Sung-hwan Kim, former Foreign Minister of ROK
Hong-Koo Lee, former Prime Minister of ROK
Chung-in Moon, Co-convenor, Asia PacificLeadership Network
Minsoon Song, President, University of NorthKorean Studies
Hee-ryong Won, Governor, Jeju Special Self-GoverningProvince Government
OVERSEAS PARTICIPANTS (15)
Nobuyasu Abe, former Under Secretary General forDisarmament 2003-6, U.N.
John Carlson, Senior Conselor, Nuclear ThreatInitiative
Chen Dongxiao, President, Shanghai Institute forInternational Studies
Jayantha Dhanapala, President, Pugwash Conferenceon Science & World Affairs
Gareth Evans, Honorary Convener, Asia PacificLeadership Network
Peter Hayes, Founder & Director, NautilusInstitute for Security & Sustainability
Pervez Hoodbhoy, Head & Professor of PhysicsDepartment, Quaid-e-Azam University
Pan Zhenqiang, Senior advisor, China Reform Forum
Sha Zukang, former Under Secretary General forEconomic and Social Affairs, U.N.
Shen Dingli, Associate Dean, Institute ofInternational Studies of Fudan University
Rakesh Sood, former Ambassador for Disarmament andNon-Proliferation, India
Carlos Sorreta, Ambassador, Embassy of thePhilippines in Moscow
Ramesh Thakur, Co-convener, Asia PacificLeadership Network
John Tilemann, Director of Research, Asia PacificLeadership Network
Nyamosor Tuya, former Foreign Minister of Mongolia
Hyung T. Hong, Head of the APLN Secretariat /Secretary General, East Asia Foundation
Sookyung Cho, Program Officer, APLN Secretariat
Chan Koo Kang, Program Officer, East AsiaFoundation
Stella Shin, Program Officer, East Asia Foundation
Image: Unsplash stock, Joongil Lee.