APLN Co-Convenors’ Press Release
Jeju 30 May 2017
An Appeal for a New Start to Addressing Nuclear Threats:
The annual meeting of the Asia–Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament convened this week in Jeju, ROK, against the backdrop of looming nuclear threats, heightened levels of regional uncertainty, and publication of the draft text of a UN convention to prohibit the acquisition, manufacture, possession, testing, use and transfer of nuclear weapons.
A Bleak Global Landscape
There has been no progress in achieving new agreements to reduce the arsenals of the two main major nuclear powers, Russia and the United States and their bilateral relations show no short-term sign of improving. Rather, the opposite: nuclear swagger has re-emerged after decades of an understanding that such behaviour is dangerous and unacceptable. At the same time, other states, all in our region, continue to expand their arsenals. And across the board there is ongoing modernization and refinement of nuclear weapon systems.
Nor has there been progress on moderating the salience of nuclear weapons in strategic doctrine. There are no advances to report on ‘de-alerting’, ‘no first use’ or ‘negative security assurances’ – long a goal of the APLN. The opposite in fact when considering the adoption of battlefield nuclear weapons by Pakistan and the possibility of similar moves by others as the INF treaty looks set to be abandoned.
We note with concern all six nuclear armed states in the Asia-Pacific region are increasing their nuclear profile. This increases the risk of accidental nuclear incidents that could escalate to a global nuclear war. We urge them all to reduce reliance on nuclear weapon threats and deployments.
These developments also increase the urgency of raising public awareness about the continuing grave risks posed by the global stockpile of 15,000 nuclear weapons.
The heightened anxiety presents challenges and opportunities, both globally and regionally. The APLN strongly urges the DPRK to desist from further provocative nuclear and missile tests to allow a reopening of regional dialogue.
The APLN believes that negotiations are the only way to resolve the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula. There is widespread agreement that preventive military strikes are not an answer and that while sanctions have their utility, in themselves they will not be enough. The immediate objective must be a freeze on all nuclear and missile tests and programs.
The APLN calls on China, Russia and the US to renew efforts to engage with the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Japan to map a path for resolving security issues on the Korean Peninsula, and achieving the universally wished for end to the nuclear and missile crisis in Northeast Asia.
The APLN welcomed the evidence of closer regional engagement in implementing agreed Security Council measures. It also welcomed the promise of President Moon Jae-in to take "bold" and "fundamental” measures to achieve denuclearization. The APLN is committed to working with others to keep open privately sponsored channels for dialogue, and offers expertise that might address the complex transparency and verification issues that denuclearization will entail.
Frustration with the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament has spurred international efforts to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons. The APLN discussed the recently released draft text of a new UN prohibition convention, and welcomes its intent to break the impasse on achieving nuclear disarmament.
Noting that the UN conference to finalize the convention will resume from 15 June to 7 July in New York, the APLN urges all countries to participate actively in this endeavour to refine and improve the draft clauses, with the object of achieving the complete delegitimization of these inhumane tools of war, building momentum towards and achieving their eventual complete elimination.
At the same time the APLN urges all countries to uphold and strengthen the existing legal constraints centred on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. It welcomes the preparations underway for the 2020 NPT Review Conference which will offer a further opportunity to advance the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. The meeting expressed the conviction that the P-5, and especially the US and Russia, must demonstrate global leadership by further deep cuts in their nuclear stockpiles.
Asia–Pacific Nuclear Threats
Reviewing the full range of regional nuclear threats and risks, the APLN committed to encouraging the development and adoption of regional confidence building arms control measures amongst regional nuclear actors. This is most urgently needed between the nuclear armed states of North and South Asia. While the complexity of strategic nuclear relations in Asia–Pacific is unique, practices and understandings which helped manage the Cold War nuclear confrontation should be considered for possible adaption to our region. Similarly, structures of security governance in Asia–Pacific are poorly developed and largely ineffective.
APLN continues to stress the importance of greater attention to nuclear security in Asia–Pacific and has published in recent months a set of analytical studies of the status of nuclear security and safety in leading regional countries with nuclear weapons and/or nuclear power programs. These studies highlight areas for improvement. We urge countries of Asia–Pacific to fully implement their nuclear security and safety commitments and to support the outcomes of the Ministerial Declaration of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s December 2016 “International Conference on Nuclear Security: Commitments and Actions.”
The APLN remains deeply committed to a program of advocacy with regional political and policy leaders in developing a new agenda for Asia–Pacific engagement on strategic nuclear issues. Our ultimate objective must be a comprehensive and universal Nuclear Weapons Convention eliminating and prohibiting nuclear weapons, backed by effective verification and enforcement.
APLN membership continues to grow and APLN Members renew their pledges to continue to work with their own national authorities, and regionally, to contain and eventually eliminate nuclear threats. And we look for like-minded national and regional partners in outreach and advocacy.
The APLN records its gratitude to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, East Asia Foundation and The Australian National University for their continuing support through the coming year.
Participants of the APLN 7th Annual Meeting, 2017
Ramesh Thakur (Professor, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University / Co-Convenor, APLN)
Chung-in Moon (Distinguished University Professor, Yonsei University / Co-Convenor, APLN)
Patron and Emeritus Convenor (1)
Gareth Evans (Chancellor, Australian National University / former Foreign Minister, Australia)
Special Guest (1)
Des Browne (Vice-Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative / MP House of Lords / Lord Browne of Ladyton, U.K.)
Nobuyasu Abe (Former UN Under-Secretary General for Disarmament / Commissioner, Japan Atomic Energy Commission)
Myung-bok Bae (Senior Editorial Writer, The JoongAng Ilbo)
Mely Caballero-Anthony (Associate Professor and Head of the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, RSIS, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
John Carlson (Counselor to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Australia)
Yung-woo Chun (Chairman, The Korean Peninsula Future Forum / Former National Security Advisor)
Marianne Hanson (Professor of International Relations, University of Queensland, Australia)
Peter Hayes (Honorary Professor, Center for International Security Studies, Sydney University, Australia / Director, The Nautilus Institute for Security & Sustainability)
Rajmah Hussain (Former Ambassador of Malaysia to the US)
Sung-hwan Kim (Former Minister of Foreign and Trade Affairs, ROK)
Won-soo Kim (Former UN Under-Secretary General for Disarmament)
Sang Hyun Lee (Director of Research Planning, The Sejong Institute)
Lalit Mansingh (Former Foreign Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, India)
Nyamosor Tuya (Former Foreign Minister of Mongolia)
Pan Zhenqiang (Senior Advisor to China Reform Forum / Retired Major General, PLA)
Manpreet Sethi (Senior Fellow, Center for Air Power Studies, India)
Sha Zukang (Former UN Under-Secretary General for Economic & Social Affairs)
Rakesh Sood (Former Ambassador to Conference on Disarmament, India)
John Tilemann (Director of Research, APLN)
Ton Nu Thi Ninh (President, Ho Chi Minh City Peace & Development Foundation)
Hee-ryong Won (Governor, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province)
Angela Woodward (Deputy Executive Director, Verification Research, Training and Information Centre / Adjunct Senior Fellow, School of Law, University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
Zhao Tong (Associate, Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, China)