APLN Newsletter (9 October 2020)
APLN Newsletter

APLN Newsletter (9 October 2020)

APLN’s Activities

The APLN Policy Brief No. 71: “The Ban Treaty: Perspectives from Southeast Asia” by Mely Caballero-Anthony

The APLN published Mely Caballero-Anthony’s policy brief, “The Ban Treaty: Perspectives from Southeast Asia” on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. Caballero-Anthony states that albeit the concerns about the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), it is a timely for regional cooperation and peace in Southeast Asia. The TPNW is the welcomed extension of previous treaties such as the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Southeast ASIAN Nuclear Weapons Free (SEANWFZ), rather than a replacement or contradiction. Ways in which the TPNW can be advanced to strengthen regional efforts for implementaiton of the NPT are discussed. It is highlighted that the TPNW will set the norms of regional cooperation for not only nuclear containment, but also active steps toward mutual prosperity.

APLN-EAF Webinar on “Preemptive Nuclear Attacks on the Korean Peninsula-Fact or Fiction”

On October 7th from 9:30-11:00 A.M. KST, the first joint APLN/EAF Webinar, funded in part by the Asia Research Fund, titled “Preemptive Nuclear Attacks on the Korean Peninsula: Fact or Fiction?” was livestreamed. Moderated by Professor Chung-in Moon, the webinar featured Dr. Morton H. Halperin (Senior Advisor to the Open Society Foundation and the Open Society Policy Center), Dr. Peter Hayes (Co-director at the Nautilus Institute), Dr. Siegfried Hecker (Professor and Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Center for International Security and Cooperation), and Dr. Eunjung Lim (Associate Professor at Kongju National University). The panelists discussed military and nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula, with special attention paid to claims made in Bob Woodward’s latest book, Rage. The panel outlined the history of U.S. nuclear doctrine and DPRK’s nuclear capabilities, and ultimately concluded that discussion of the use of “80 nuclear weapons” on the Korean peninsula is a supremely unlikely worst case. Finally, they warned of the risks of misunderstanding and mistakes that could escalate into a nuclear exchange. To prevent such a catastrophe, the panelists agreed that diplomacy needs to embrace a step-by-step confidence-building process, in order to make nuclear threats less necessary for deterrence or compellence on both sides. Learn more

The APLN-Korea Times Essay Contest

The APLN is accepting submissions for its Essay Contest with the Korea Times on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament issues in the Asia-Pacific region! Undergraduate and graduate students are required to write 800-1000 words on various different topics ranging from nuclear governance, strategic nuclear rivalry, the North Korean nuclear problem, emerging technologies, and more. Winners will receive monetary rewards, awards, and an opportunity to participate in the 19th ROK-UN Conference on Disarmament in the fall. The APLN Secretariat asks members and those affiliated to disseminate this information to students you may know or might be interested as it is a great chance for students to engage, publish, and stay connected within the field of nuclear issues. The deadline has been extended to Saturday, October 31, 2020. Learn more

Recent Activities and Updates

Email us about your recent activities! The APLN Secretariat asks members and colleagues to send us your recent activities, references, or changes in post from your respective countries to share with all those involved. Please send us any updates or resources to our email address at apln@apln.network.

Members’ Activities

Nobuyasu Abe: “The NPT at Fifty: Successes and Failures”

On July 30, 2020, Nobuyasu Abe published an assessment of the NPT at the Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament. He argues that while the NPT had succeeded in its initial task of preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons changes during the last five decades, it is rendered as insufficient in guarding against new nuclear threats. Progress must be made towards nuclear disarmament external to the treaty to patch up loopholes, such as negotiations for a Middle East WMD-free zone with Israel and regional talks for North Korean denuclearization. Unless the shortcomings of the NPT are not addressed, the treaty will gradually lose its relevance for further nuclear proliferation. Learn more

Chung-in Moon: Interview on North Korean Killing of a South Korean Government Worker at Sea

On September 29, 2020, Moon Chung-in was interviewed by the Arirang News Center on the recent North Korean killing of a South Korean maritime agency official in the Yellow Sea. During the half-hour-long discussion, Chung-in Moon provided his thoughtful insights into President Moon Jae-in’s response to the tragedy, further outlining additional steps to be taken moving forward. In light of discrepancies between North and South Korean reports, Chung-in Moon contended that the North Korean leadership should accept South Korea’s request for a joint investigation in order to resolve conflicting details on the incident. He also countered criticisms against President Moon’s supposed “inaction” and inappropriate framing of the issue, highlighting misunderstandings that arose from the unfortunate timing of the president’s pre-recorded UN speech, as well as the utmost importance of “prudence” in deliberating matters pertaining to inter-Korean relations. Besides restoring all communication lines with South Korea, Chung-in Moon called for North Korea’s deliverance of not only a written apology but an oral one, preferably via an in-person or virtual inter-Korean summit resembling the 2018 meeting at Panmunjom. Apart from providing formal explanations on the death of Mr. Lee and the demolishment of the South’s liaison office in Kaesong, such an inter-Korean summit should focus on the crucial task of denuclearization and peace-building on the Korean peninsula, especially with the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Learn more

Ramesh Thakur: “The United Nations and the North-South Partnership: Connecting the Past to the Future”

On October 1, 2020, Ramesh Thakur published an essay in Ethics and International Affairs. The paper highlights the outdatedness of the United Nations’ policies and norms because its main drivers had been almost exclusively from the countries in the Global North 75 years ago at its conception. Countries in the Global South have risen in status and population since then, naturally commanding a majority of the UN membership. Despite this, the UN remains severely underrepresented, especially in the UN Security Council and senior ranks of the UN system. This demands a change in its North-oriented structure. However, such reforms are unlikely to be seen in the foreseeable future, hinting at the declining utility of the UN. Learn more

Chung-in Moon: “The Truth about the ’80 Nuclear Weapons”‘

On October 6, 2020, Chung-in Moon published an editorial column in The Hankyoreh on a controversial quote in Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s new book titled Rage. The quote in question was stated by the former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, which denoted that the U.S. response to a North Korea attack or a North Korean provocation could include the deployment of “80 nuclear weapons.” The ambiguous nature of this statement has sparked much debate and confusion, not to mention the underlying inaccuracy of the comment itself. The article further discusses the unlikelihood of a U.S. preemptive strike by either Pyongyang or Washington, with the latter facing a number of technical and geopolitical challenges involving Russia and China albeit an arsenal or more than 80 nuclear weapons. Learn more

APLN’s Selections

Nuclear War, Public Health, the COVID-19 Epidemic: Lessons for Prevention, Preparation, Mitigation, and Education

Written by: Andrew Futter, Samuel I. Watson, Peter J. Chilton, and Richard J. Lilford

On September 8, 2020, Andrew Flutter et al. published an article about nuclear risks and preventive measures for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The authors emphasize that nuclear consequences rise above the immediate death toll, ranging from the breakdown of supply chains and medical systems to a large-scale disruption of law and order. As COVID-19 has presented, states are not prepared for a wide-range catastrophe. Measures from all levels are necessary to prevent and prepare for a nuclear catastrophe, starting from public education on nuclear threats to antinuclear civil action to developing policies in case of such cataclysm. The nuclear threat is higher than ever. Learn more

How Are China’s Land-based Conventional Missile Forces Evolving?

Written by: ChinaPower- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

On September 21, 2020, ChinaPower released an illuminating report titled, “How Are China’s Land-based Conventional Missile Forces Evolving?” The article incorporates multiple interactive data visualizations to demonstrate how the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has come to house one of the world’s most powerful land-based conventional missile arsenals. In addition to exploring the wide range and capabilities of missile systems fielded by the PLA Rocket Force, the report delves into the role of these weapons in China’s military strategy, particularly in relation to the U.S. and the evolving Indo-Pacific security landscape. Noting China’s recent development of hypersonic glide vehicles, ChinaPower concludes by underscoring the rising threat of hypersonic missile technologies as being “critical to the future of missile deterrence.” Learn more

On Creating the TPNW Verification System

Written by: Thomas E. Shea

In September 2020, Thomas E. Shea published a policy brief with the Toda Peace Institute titled “On Creating the TPNW Verification System.” Bearing in mind a multitude of potential challenges, namely a lack of willingness to cooperate on the part of nuclear-armed states, the paper outlines the “technical framework, scope, and institutional architecture” for a verification system when the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) enters into effect. Shea proposes broadening the scope of the TPNW Verification System to address other additional risks, combined with establishing bilateral or trilateral accords as mechanisms for checking the proper management and dismantlement of nuclear materials. The policy brief further rationalizes a need to create a new verification authority to hold TPNW Parties accountable as well as a detailed blueprint for multiple steps and procedures required for proper verification. Learn more