NGO side event, The Second Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW
Hyeran Oh, Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea (SPARK)
November 29, 2023, New York
To prevent a nuclear war crisis on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia,
the nuclear alliance and extended deterrence must be abolished!
First, let me share my thoughts on the seriousness of the nuclear war crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
As you know, the U.S-South Korea and North Korea have recently engaged in more acute nuclear confrontation on the Korean Peninsula, seeking ‘peace through strength’, ‘peace through deterrence’. The extended deterrence strategy is a strategy premised on the threat and use of nuclear weapons. Adversaries respond with a similar strategy of threats and use of nuclear weapons, bringing the two countries to the brink of war.
The U.S. has never abandoned its policy of first use of nuclear weapons and has fielded the low-yield nuclear weapons. North Korea has also enacted a nuclear law that specifies the preemptive use of nuclear weapons and has deployed tactical nuclear weapons. It is clear that the nuclear preemptive strike strategy of both will trigger a nuclear war as both of them will rush to use nuclear weapons first, in the event of a crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
In accordance with the Washington Declaration of April 2023, the ROK-U.S. authorities are establishing a new military strategy and operational plan and establishing a unit to carry out it in order to strengthen extended deterrence and improve execution capabilities. The main change is to support U.S. nuclear operations with South Korea’s conventional forces. This means that the U.S.-ROK joint military strategy and operations will now be transformed into a nuclear forces-oriented strategy and operations from the previous conventional forces-oriented strategy and operations.
Moreover, it is obvious that the new U.S.-ROK ‘Operational Plan 2022’ will include, at least in part, operations against China. According to the recent Japanese News Nikkei, Gen. Anthony Cotton, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, said that contingencies will go beyond North Korea given the growing challenges in the region, and a contingency plan that also targets China is desirable. This showed his intention to establish a joint operational plan for the U.S.-ROK-Japan alliance against China.
If the U.S.-ROK-Japan joint operational plan is established as he envisions, and trilateral exercises are institutionalized in accordance with the Camp David summit last July, a nuclear confrontation of North Korea-China versus U.S.-ROK-Japan will be formed in Northeast Asia, which will surpass that of the Cold War, and the confrontation in the region will be exponentially more intense in terms of both quality and quantity than before. The Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia are literally becoming the epicenter of a nuclear war.
Next is, what are the key tasks to prevent a nuclear war crisis in the region?
The U.S.’ extended deterrence policy, which emphasizes nuclear threats and preemptive strikes, violates Article 2, Paragraph 4 of the UN Charter. North Korea's nuclear law is also illegal for the same reason, although the U.S. provided the initial cause. Deterrence by threat creates conflict and crisis, which inevitably escalates into war and destroys peace, as the armed conflicts in Ukraine and Israel have shown. The new U.S.-ROK Strategy and ‘Operational Plan 2022’ should be no exception.
Therefore, to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, to establish a nuclear-free zone in Northeast Asia, and to realize a world free of nuclear weapons, it is urgent to demand the repeal of this new U.S.-ROK Strategy and Operational Plan and the abolition of North Korea's nuclear law.
Nuclear alliances and extended deterrence are incompatible with peace, coexistence, and prosperity for the people of the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia, and the world. We can only realize peace, coexistence, and a nuclear-free world by confronting the many political leaders who are obsessed with the myth of nuclear alliances and deterrence and turning humanity into an endangered species.
Now, I will share my thoughts on what significance the International People's Tribunal has in overcoming the current nuclear war crisis in the region. The International People's Tribunal is planned to hold the U.S. accountable for dropping Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. This is to fight against nuclear alliances and deterrence theories, and to prepare means of peace to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, and to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Northeast Asia, and to realize a nuclear-free world.
Last June 2023, we held the first international forum to prepare for our tribunal. The presentations to the first forum generally expressed the view that the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was illegal under the conventional international laws and customary international laws as of 1945. We are confident that this Forum was the first step in the long journey of preparation This is because a judgment that the use of nuclear weapons was illegal in 1945 provides a basis for condemning all nuclear threats and uses today as illegal.
The second international forum, to be held in Hiroshima in June 2024, will move forward on topics such as the illegality of the U.S. atomic bombing in light of international humanitarian law as it has developed since 1945, the impact of nuclear deterrence on peace in Northeast Asia and on the Korean peninsula, and on inhumanity of nuclear weapons. To sharpen our analysis taken from the first forum, we plan to invite presenters and discussants who can formulate solid legal principles. Following the round table at the first forum, we would also like to hear more broadly from international peace organizations.
We do expect that there will be many difficulties in promoting the International People's Tribunal. But we will continue to move forward one step at a time, bearing the pains and sorrow of the Korean A-bomb victims in mind and praying for a Korean peninsula and world free of nuclear confrontation.
We ask for your support and cooperation to ensure the success of the International People's Tribunal to hold the U.S. accountable for dropping A-Bombs in 1945. Thank you.