[Joint Statement] Now Is the Time for Dialogue on Denuclearization and Not Military Action That Will Escalate the Crisis on the Korean Peninsula
We, undersigned peace-loving people around the world, are deeply concerned about the current escalating tension in Northeast Asia and urge governments to have peaceful dialogues among each other rather than taking military actions.
The state of affairs on the Korean Peninsula is more volatile than ever, now that President Park has been impeached and new government is to be constituted through an early presidential election in South Korea. The Trump administration, in the meantime, is fueling the escalating tension even further with messages that it will not rule out a preemptive strike on North Korea, and that it will redeploy strategic nuclear warheads to South Korea if necessary. The situation is further destabilized by the Trump administration’s decision to send an aircraft carrier to waters near the Korean Peninsula. The latest military stance and strategy of Washington, however, completely overlooks the desire of Koreans for peace. The Kim Jong-un government in Pyongyang meanwhile has warned of another upcoming nuclear test it intends to conduct, poised as it is to show off its growing nuclear capabilities. An existing crisis is already escalating in Northeast Asia over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system that the South Korean and U.S. governments have decided to deploy in South Korea. All these acts of military bravado, taking hostage the lives and peace of Koreans, must cease now. It is time for policymakers to be responsible and return to dialogue and negotiations and stop fueling the growing tensions.
Therefore, we exhort the US administration and political leaders of North and South Korea.
Withdraw the decision to deploy the THAAD system, part of the U.S.-South Korea-Japan Missile Defense system, in South Korea.
The South Korean and U.S. governments have decided heavy-handedly, without the consent of the Korean legislatures and despite strong public objections, to deploy the THAAD system to Seongju, South Korea. The two governments claim that such a decision is necessary to protect South Koreans against possible nuclear strikes by North Korea, but the claim is backed by little realistic evidence. South Korea is too close to North Korea for THAAD to be effective. The North only needs low-altitude missiles, to hit and destroy the South in a matter of a few minutes, and these missiles could not be intercepted by THAAD. Moreover, the THAAD system has never been proven effective in actual battle. The deployment of THAAD by the U.S. Army in South Korea represents the South Korea-U.S.-Japan alliance against China and effectively symbolizes South Korea siding with the Americans over the Chinese. The presence of such an openly hostile missile defense system gravely disrupts the prospects for peace in Northeast Asia. Beijing and Moscow have already warned that they would take “corresponding measures” in response to the deployment, with the Chinese government and businesses now engaged in unofficial but retaliatory economic sanctions against South Korea. The growing instability and arms race in Northeast Asia will only undermine international efforts for a peaceful resolution of the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula.
What we need now is to resume dialogue towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a genuine end to the Korean War.
Pyongyang must desist from further testing of its missiles and nuclear capabilities. We cannot support the development of weapons that directly contradict international efforts for nuclear disarmament and that hold the lives and safety of innocent people hostage. It is critical to resume dialogue and negotiations to root out the nuclear threats to the entire region and to achieve the much-needed transition from the Armistice’s ceasefire to a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. In doing so, we ought to admit the failure of the past sanction- and neglect-centered policies that insisted, unrealistically, that the government in Pyongyang either renounce its nuclear program prior to negotiations or collapse. With the end of nuclear diplomacy, the Kim government did nothing but augment its nuclear and missile capabilities, complicating the situation still further. We realize that countless military drills and the acquisition of cutting-edge weapon systems no longer guarantee peace and security. The perpetual political tension and military hostility can end only through dialogue and negotiation. Honest talks hold the only wise solution to the current predicament.
The Korean Peninsula can no longer afford to exist as a powder keg waiting to be ignited by the chronic military tensions and the constant arms race. This is among the first and foremost place where international efforts to tackle the nuclear problem and overcome the old Cold War legacy should begin. We need to start making serious efforts for peace, not only for the two Koreas, but also for Northeast Asia and the world at large. We urge the Trump administration, the Kim government, and the presidential candidates in South Korea to listen to the desire of people worldwide for peace and resist the temptation to ratchet up military tensions on the Korean Peninsula for political gain.