Looming Nuclear Turmoil
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Looming Nuclear Turmoil


APLN member Kim Won-soo writes for The Korea Times and warns that the risk of a nuclear domino effect could materialize in Northeast Asia, ultimately jeopardizing the fate of the NPT.

Our diagnosis must be based on this sober and rather pessimistic reality. But we cannot and should not bring ourselves down by staying pessimistic. We must be optimistic in our action. Otherwise we cannot steer our future in the direction we want.

The first onus of action is on the United States. Without U.S. leadership, nuclear order cannot be restored. The U.S. must reach out to China and convince Beijing to raise the priority of restoring nuclear order on its national agenda. The recent resumption of the U.S.-China dialogue is a positive development, but they have a long way to go. They should focus on the fundamental principles of nuclear order, in which they have common interests. This can include the reaffirmation of nuclear non-use and the disapproval of nuclear blackmail. The track record of the U.S. administrations after President Barack Obama has been disappointing, as the momentum created by the Nuclear Security Summit was lost. With China’s President Xi Jinping consolidating his power throughout his third term, it is hard to expect any substantial progress without sustained engagement at the top level. The common understanding between the two on key principles of nuclear order will provide a good basis for the five recognized nuclear powers (N5) to work on a blueprint for nuclear disarmament.

This top-down work can be complemented with Track 2 or Track 1.5 efforts involving think tanks and civic organizations. Earlier this week an international Track 2 dialogue took place in Seoul with experts from the U.S., China, Korea, Japan and Australia. This dialogue hosted by the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network, helped the experts understand each other’s positions better and will eventually contribute to guiding their governments toward a consensus later on.

Korea faces the tough task of navigating the sober reality of impending nuclear disorder for security. To that end, Korea must re-examine its security posture, including extended and integrated deterrence from scratch and find a path forward within the bounds of the NPT. We should not and cannot be a pariah in the global nuclear order.

The original article can be accessed here.

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