The already dangerous crisis in Korea has escalated further with the reckless rhetoric emanating from both the United States and the Democratic Republic of Korea. The wild threats issued by both sides only inflame an already explosive situation. If acted on they could lead directly to the death of tens of millions of people in both countries and beyond their borders. They must stop.
At a time of similar confrontation in 1994 the United States and the DPRK chose to enter into negotiations and they were able to work out an arrangement that met both nations’ security needs until the United States suspended the talks in 2002. There is an urgent need to resume direct negotiations without preconditions to defuse this dangerous crisis.
At the United Nations last month 122 nations pointed out the path forward by voting to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Treaty recognized the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that will result from nuclear war and prohibited the possession of these weapons. The United States, the Democratic Republic of Korea, and all of the nuclear-armed states need to acknowledge the unacceptable danger posed by these weapons, and clearly illustrated by the current crisis. They need to understand that nuclear weapons do not enhance their security, but pose the greatest risk to their own security and the security of all peoples. And they need to negotiate the time bound, verifiable, and enforceable elimination of their arsenals.