North Korea’s sixth nuclear test produced a massive explosion capable of leveling an entire city. North Korea experts, including our grantees, are still assessing the details, but North Korea claims it tested a hydrogen bomb that can fit on a long-range missile. The test was a provocative act that poses a potential threat to the United States and a direct threat to allies South Korea and Japan. It is an act that undermines stability, security and prosperity in Northeast Asia, and could lead to a new nuclear arms race in the region.
Ploughshares Fund calls on North Korea to immediately halt all nuclear weapons and missile activity.
The North's latest nuclear test demonstrates that continued US reliance on international sanctions and bellicose rhetoric has failed to stop North Korea's determined effort to refine its nuclear and missile capabilities. Diplomacy, combined with increased pressure, is the only policy that has halted the North Korean nuclear program in the past, and diplomacy is needed today more than ever.
We understand that negotiating with the North is difficult, but it is not impossible. The Clinton administration negotiated a diplomatic agreement that stopped the North from producing dozens of bombs worth of fissile material between 1994 and 2002. Many people thought that negotiating a nuclear agreement with Iran would be impossible, but it worked.
Sanctions alone are not enough to force North Korea to comply. We have been tightening sanctions on North Korea for over a decade, and their nuclear program has only accelerated. Sanctions must be paired with some engagement. We must offer North Korea things that they want: security guarantees, some form of international political recognition, and economic benefits in exchange for a freeze on their nuclear and missile programs.
Ploughshares Fund is convening top experts and organizations on North Korea to design and test diplomatic solutions, and to conduct timely analysis and rapid-response media to dispel disinformation. We are supporting Track II diplomatic efforts with North Korea which will help build relationships, reduce the risk of war, and lay the groundwork for official talks. And just last month former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry was on Capitol Hill with Ploughshares Fund staff making sure influential Members of Congress stand up for diplomacy, and push back against those who seek military solutions.
Lastly, we seek to engage you. With your help, Ploughshares Fund can educate the public on the risks of war and the need for a diplomatic solution. Together, we can put pressure on policymakers to make the right decisions. We believe that together we can help prevent military conflict on the peninsula in the short-term, contain and freeze their nuclear weapons program in the mid-term, and roll back their program in the long-term.
We have two inexperienced leaders in the United States and North Korea facing off with nuclear weapons. There is a real danger that we could stumble into a war no one wants. But war is not inevitable. We need to talk and get our lines of communication crystal clear. We need to find a diplomatic solution to this pressing and growing danger, today.
Thank you for your support at this critical juncture.
Photo: North Korea, Pyongyang, Arirang (Mass Games). Flickr / (stephan) (cc)