▲ After the session "After the Seoul Nuclear Summit: Is Nuclear Weapons-free Zone in Northeast Asia Still Possible?" on June 1, the panel joke with one another and pose for photographs. From left, Kim Bong Hyun, deputy minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs; Kawaguchi Yoriko, member of the House of Councillors, Japan; moderator for the session and Nautilus Institute for Security & Sustainability Director Peter Hayes; Morton H. Halperin, senior advisor for the Open Society Institute; and Fan Jishe, deputy director for the Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Photo by The Jeju Weekly
During the last five concurrent sessions of the second day of the 7th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity on June 1, “After the Seoul Nuclear Summit: Is Nuclear Weapons-free Zone in Northeast Asia Still Possible?” was held to a small audience in Crystal Hall A of the Haevichi Hotel & Resort Jeju, in Seogwipo City.
Moderated by The Nautilus Institute for Security & Sustainability Director Peter Hayes, with participants Morton H. Halperin, senior advisor for the Open Society Institute; Kim Bong Hyun, deputy minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs; Kawaguchi Yoriko, member of the House of Councillors, Japan; and Fan Jishe, deputy director for the Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences discussed how the issue of nuclear-free East Asia zone has changed since the Seoul Nuclear Summit this past March.
The discussion began with Hayes asking Halperin what kind of large maneuvers can be undertaken to rectify the situation of a nuclearized North Korea.
The UN defines a nuclear weapons-free zone as a group of states that has a complete absence of nuclear weapons and which is subject to international verification [General Assembly Resolution 3472 B (1975)].
Halperin said that the “old process” of dealing with North Korea, which he defined as being negotiations with broad principles that would lead to a specific agreement with concrete steps, “has come to an end and has clearly failed.”
One of the reasons for the failure, Halperin said, was due to the ambiguousness of the agreements and the presence of many loopholes.
“We were trying to get as much from the North Koreans as we could, but then we would make unilateral statements about what we thought the agreements meant and then took their silence and their disagreement not to mean anything,” he said. “I think we need to start over with a new approach.”
This new approach would be talks of an international peace treaty between interested countries like South Korea and Japan, and to eventually include Russia. “And when that’s all done,” said Halperin, “go to the North Koreans” with informal talks about the possibility of creating this treaty.
Hayes then asked Fan what direction he would take to establish a denuclearized North Korea.
“For China, we think we need to address the root cause. Why do they want to develop their own nuclear weapons?” he asked.
What North Korea wants, Fan says, is a deterrent against the US, the legitimacy of the reign, and economic reform. “that is really what they want,” he said, and nuclear weapons would be an answer to all three, he said.
“My only instinct is that the [North Korean] government doesn’t really know how to get to where it wants to get,” said Halperin, and “is frustrated,” which is the reason for the violent rhetoric from the North.
He continued that “if there’s a war North Korea will quickly lose and cease to exist without the use of nuclear weapons.” On top of that “the devastation in South Korea as well as North Korea would be enormous and is unacceptable.”
This fallout, he says, means that this situation needs to be prevented from spinning out of control while at the same time preventing North Korea from “doing whatever it wants.”
Fan agrees that the North’s combative language is out of frustration for they only have two options either; either give up their nuclear weapons and return to the six-party talks or be further isolated. “But that is not what they what,” said Fan.
He continued that it won’t lead to war, but that stability might just be the “only goal.”
This was a common sentiment among all panelists. The chances of war, particularly a nuclear war, are low because it would be the end of the North regime.
Hayes then wondered if this is “much ado about nothing” since, as far as it is known, North Korea can only use nuclear weapons as underground mines.
He continued that it would be difficult even for the US to use a nuclear weapon for an intercontinental missile would have to fly over Russia which presents “risks for the Russia-American relationship.” A submarine-launched missile would be going towards China, who Hayes says has “basically no early warning radar” from the east, so the White House would have to inform China of their actions.
“The United States has actually already sheathed its own weapon in many respects vis-a-vis North Korea,” he said.
Also, Halperin said, even if the US or its allies were attacked by a nuclear weapon it would result in more traditional methods of warfare instead of nuclear retaliation for two reasons; One, to prevent further nuclear attacks, and two, in regards to North Korea, it is difficult to choose the target. A retaliatory nuclear strike would punish North Korea’s population for the actions of a few leaders.
Concerning the establishment of Northeast Asia as a nuclear weapons-free zone, Kawaguchi said that it is more difficult here compared to other regions that have already established this sort of ban, because nations in Northeast Asia are already armed.
“The reason why the six-party talks do not succeed is the same reason for why a nuclear weapons-free zone does not work. No mutual trust, the DPRK will behave exactly the same way,” she said, adding “It’s not us who did something wrong, it’s them.”
Halperin believes that North Korea will not dismantle their nuclear arsenal “without a set of legally binding assurances on the things that it cares about; namely, recognition by the United states, no hostile intent, no use of nuclear weapons by the United States.”
“Let’s put it all in a package and propose it to them and see how they respond it. I don’t see that we lose anything by doing that and I think there’s some chance that they’ll accept it,” he said.
The 7th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity, organized by the Jeju Peace Institute and hosted and sponsored by several organizations and corporations, began at 4 p.m on May 31. with the Special Session “Conversation with Steve Wozniak: The End of the PC Era and Future of the IT Industry.” A total of 58 sessions in the categories of prosperity, environment, peace, gender, education, and one titled etc. will be conducted from May 31 to June 2 at the Haevichi Hotel & Resort Jeju, Seogwipo City.
Under the theme of "New Trends and the Future of Asia," the 7th Jeju Forum will examine political and social issues affecting the area within a historical context to encourage cooperation and community building in the region. The forum will also afford the opportunity to simultaneously gauge the political and financial climate throughout the world to better understand Asia’s position within it. As this year marks the 20th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and China, there will be several sessions dedicated to the future of this union like “Korean Unification and China,” and “20 Years of Diplomatic Relations between Korea and China - Push Forward Strategic Cooperative Partnership.”
Hundreds of incumbent and former heads of state, experts, leading businessmen, academics, and activists including former Prime Minister of Australia Paul John Keating, former Prime Minister of Thailand Abhisit Vejjajiva, Chinese People’s Political Party Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee Member Xie Bo Yang, and Apple Inc. Co-founder Steve Wozniak will be on hand for the three-day event to discuss the future of Asia.
Some of the other topics to be addressed during this three-day conference include the future of the IT Industry, new growth engines for the region, the environment, financial cooperation, welfare expansion, and others.
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