Global Condemnation of Reported North Korean Nuclear Test
January 7, 2016
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
ICAN strongly condemns the nuclear test conducted by North Korea on 6 January. This reckless and unacceptable act runs counter to the growing tide of international support for a universal treaty outlawing nuclear weapons. Any use of nuclear weapons has catastrophic humanitarian consequences. Tests in Semipalatinsk, the Marshall Islands, and everywhere nuclear weapons are used or produced, affect thousands of people and impact entire generations.
ICAN Condemns North Korean Nuclear Test
(January 7, 2016) -- The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) strongly condemns the nuclear test conducted by North Korea on 6 January. This reckless and unacceptable act runs counter to the growing tide of international support for a universal treaty outlawing nuclear weapons.
Any use of nuclear weapons has catastrophic humanitarian consequences. The tests in Semipalatinsk, the Marshall Islands, and everywhere nuclear weapons were used or produced, affected thousands of people and impacted entire generations.
All nations are legally obliged to pursue negotiations in good faith for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
ICAN strongly opposes all forms of nuclear testing, and urges nations that have not yet done so to join the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. We call on North Korea to cease immediately the build-up of its nuclear arsenal, and to engage in dialogue to achieve nuclear disarmament.
It is beyond time for the international community to prohibit nuclear weapons just as chemical and biological weapons have been prohibited.
North Korea Nuclear Test:
A Dangerous Development
Beatrice Fihn / International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
(January 6, 2016) -- It was with great concern we heard the news that North Korea announced it carried out a successful test of its first hydrogen bomb on 6 January. While the nature and details surrounding the test are still unconfirmed, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation -- which has monitoring stations positioned around the world to detect illegitimate testing activities -- announced that it detected a seismic event similar to the North Korean test of 2013.
ICAN strongly condemns this test, regardless of whether or not it was successful, whether it was a hydrogen bomb or not. Today we were reminded that some states still believe nuclear weapons are legitimate tools of defence.
This reckless and unacceptable act by North Korea runs counter to the growing tide of international support for a universal treaty outlawing nuclear weapons.
But North Korea isn't the only state trying to boost its nuclear weapons programme. All nine nuclear armed states are also developing or deploying new nuclear weapons systems or have announced their intention to do so.
The test comes at a time where the world has seen escalating tensions between nuclear-armed states, fueled by hostile rhetoric and expensive modernization programmes.
If we don't take action now, we might risk getting thrown into a new nuclear arms race.
It is therefore urgent that states that are concerned about humanitarian law and humanitarian values act upon these beliefs and prohibit the most destructive and inhumane weapon of them all.
Next month, a new UN working group in Geneva, Switzerland, will launch talks on new legal measures against nuclear weapons. 121 states have endorsed the "Humanitarian Pledge", which recognize that no explicit prohibition of nuclear weapons exists and commits to fill such legal gap.
All responsible states must use these talks in Geneva to develop a new legally binding instrument that prohibits nuclear weapons.
ICAN will work tirelessly to achieve this, and we'll keep you updated on the work along the way. While today's news were worrying and concerning, the growing support for a treaty banning nuclear weapons shows that change is possible.
Let's get working on that treaty!
Beatrice Fihn is the Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Below are some of the responses of Hibakusha in Japan and I am quoted referring to "growing international opinion toward (the conclusion of) a nuclear weapons ban treaty."
-- Akira Kawasaki
A-bomb Survivors, Kin of Abductees
Angered by North's Nuclear Test
TOKYO (January 6, 2016) -- Atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and family members of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea expressed their anger Wednesday at North Korea's claimed hydrogen bomb test.
"I can never ever forgive it as a hibakusha (a-bomb survivor) if North Korea conducted a nuclear test in a world where the trend toward the total abolition of nuclear weapons is gradually advancing," said Terumi Tanaka, secretary general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations.
Hirotami Yamada, secretary general of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors Council, said "A (nuclear) test should not be done for any reason. We protest it as a hibakusha group, and are paying close attention to what measures the Japanese government will take."
Civil groups against nuclear weapons also voiced their concerns.
"It is quite regrettable that (Pyongyang) tried to give the impression of being a nuclear possessing country amid growing international opinion toward (the conclusion of) a nuclear weapons ban treaty," said Akira Kawasaki, co-representative of Peace Boat.
The world order on nuclear arms "is being threatened," he added, noting that a UN review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ended without adopting a consensus document last May.
Family members of Japanese people abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s expressed their anger over the move's possible impact on the stalled negotiations between Japan and North Korea on the issue.
"North Korea has repeated the same sort of thing for decades," said Sakie Yokota, 79, whose daughter Megumi was abducted to North Korea in 1977 at age 13. "What we hope for is an early return of our family member," she said.
Katsunobu Kato, state minister in charge of the abduction issue, told reporters the latest development "is a matter that obviously goes against UN resolutions. We would like to respond in a proper manner, assessing a series of movements."
-- Akira Kawasaki Executive Committee member, Peace Boat http://www.peaceboat.org/english Have you signed? Save Japan's Article 9! http://is.gd/save_article_9 Ban nuclear weapons - ICAN http://www.icanw.org Peace Boat Office: +81(0)3 3363 7561
Other Responses to the Reported North Korea Nuclear Test
Hyun Lee is a member of the Working Group on Peace and Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific as well as a fellow at the Korea Policy Institute. She said today:
"People who stand for peace have been saying we need to resolve the fundamental issue: There's still a state of war between North Korea and the US and there needs to be dialogue and a peace treaty.
"We've been warning that North Korea will continue to build its nuclear arsenal until that happens. . . . North Korea had frozen its nuclear program during the Sunshine Policy period [beginning in the late 90s] and that all crumbled with the Bush administration's threats."
Alice Slater is with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Abolition 2000 coordinating committee. She said today:
"This latest terrifying and dreadful underground nuclear test by North Korea should be a warning to the United States and the other nuclear weapons states, that the longer we continue to modernize and cling to our nuclear arsenals and promote a nuclear deterrence policy which promises catastrophic threats of nuclear retaliation if attacked, the more additional countries will be seeking to get their own 'deterrent,' just as North Korea has done creating ever greater threats of accidental or deliberate nuclear catastrophe. . . .
"It cannot have escaped the notice of North Korea that after Saddam Hussein's nuclear program was ended in the 1990s and after Muammar Ghadafi voluntarily gave up his nuclear weapons program, they both ended up dead. . . .
"The only way to control the further spread of nuclear weapons and unforeseeable nuclear disaster, is for the US and the other nuclear nations, Russia, UK, France, China, Israel, India, and Pakistan, to give up their nuclear weapons and negotiate a treaty for the total abolition of nuclear weapons under strict and effective international monitoring and control.
"Unfortunately, this won't happen until the two nuclear behemoths at the table, the US and Russia, who now have 15,000 of the 16,000 nuclear weapons on the planet, agree to do this.
"Russia has been quite clear that unless the US stops its aggressive expansion of NATO up to its borders -- despite promises made to Gorbachev when the wall came down that NATO would not expand beyond East Germany -- and forgoes its intention to dominate and control the military use of space, but rather join with Russia and China to negotiate on their proposed space weapons ban treaty, which the US has been blocking since the treaty was first tabled in Geneva in 2008, there will be no cooperation from Russia. . . .
"People are not aware that we still have 38,000 US troops stationed on the North Korean border and there have been many bad faith sabotages of proposed negotiations to bring North Korea back into the family of nations.
"With Obama announcing a proposed one trillion dollars over the next thirty years for new bomb factories, delivery systems and upgraded nuclear weapons, what can we realistically expect from North Korea at this time?"
Frequently Asked Questions: North Korea Nuclear Tests
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
What Do We Know?
On 6 January 2016 North Korean official state media reported that it had carried out a successful test of a thermonuclear weapon, also known as a hydrogen bomb. This announcement followed a statement by the CTBTO that it had detected an "unusual seismic event" at the site of North Korea's most recent nuclear test in 2013.
The CTBTO has monitoring stations positioned around the world to detect underground seismic activity consistent with the detonation of a nuclear weapon.
While details of the test have yet to be confirmed by independent experts, North Korea claims that the device tested was a miniaturized hydrogen bomb. If true, this would be the fourth test of a nuclear weapon by North Korea since 1996 and its first of a hydrogen bomb, which exerts a significantly more powerful yield than an atomic bomb of the type used by the United States over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
According to a statement released early on 6 January from the CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo, "If confirmed as a nuclear test, this act constitutes a breach of the universally accepted norm against nuclear testing; a norm that has been respected by 183 countries since 1996. It is also a grave threat to international peace and security."
What is North Korea's
Nuclear Weapons Capacity?
While North Korea is known to have an active nuclear weapons programme, specific details are hard to come by. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which publishes yearly reports on the status of the world's nuclear arsenal, North Korea could have enough fissile material to construct up to 8 nuclear weapons. This is based on assessments of the enrichment capabilities of North Korea's nuclear reactor.
North Korea has previously tested nuclear weapons on three occasions, most recently in February 2013. It is considered that those tests were of "basic" nuclear devices, too large and unwieldy to be attached to a missile or dropped from a plane.
While independent verification is still to come, if North Korea's claim that it has constructed a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit on a delivery system proves to be true, it would represent a dangerous advancement in its nuclear weapons capacity, both in terms of explosive yield and the ability to carry out an attack.
Are Nuclear Weapons and Their Testing Prohibited?
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), signed by 183 states, bans nuclear tests, but, nearly twenty years on, it has yet to be entered into force due to the non-ratification by eight states, including several nuclear weapon states. Nevertheless, the testing of nuclear weapons is considered to be a violation of a widely-respected norm.
However, the possession of nuclear weapons and the threat of their use are not currently banned under international law, making them the only weapons of mass destruction not yet explicitly prohibited by international convention.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) prohibits its states parties who did not have nuclear weapons upon signing the treaty from acquiring nuclear weapons, while obligating those that did to disarm.
How Would a Ban Treaty Relate to Rogue States like North Korea?
A ban on nuclear weapons will establish an international norm against the possession of nuclear weapons, which will help to reduce the perceived value of such weapons. It will draw the line between those states that believe nuclear weapons are unacceptable and illegitimate, and those states that believe nuclear weapons are legitimate and able to provide security.
The arguments used by North Korea to defend its nuclear weapons program and tests are echoes of the reasoning used, and thereby legitimized, by the nuclear weapon states. North Korea announced that it was "proudly joining the advanced ranks of nuclear weapon states" equipped with "the most powerful nuclear deterrent" as a means of self-defense against the "ever-growing nuclear threat and blackmail by the US-led forces".
In 2015, French President François Hollande claimed that France's nuclear weapons allows it to "preserve our freedom of action and decision in all circumstances, ruling out any threat of blackmail . . . . Our nuclear forces must be capable of inflicting absolutely unacceptable damage to the adversary's centres of power: its political, economic and military nerve centres."
If nuclear weapons continue to be portrayed as a legitimate and a useful mean to provide security, non-nuclear weapon states might aim to develop such weapons themselves.
A ban on nuclear weapons would create a global norm against nuclear weapons, which would not only put pressure on both nuclear-armed and non-nuclear weapon states to reject nuclear weapons permanently, but it would also set the stage for future progress in states like North Korea should its domestic political situation change.
See statement and updates from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
See "New estimates put cost of US nuclear weapons upgrade at $963 billion."
Also, see from 2013: "South Korea, US sign new pact to deter North Korea nuclear threat" and "South Korea Unveils 'Active' Nuclear Deterrence Plan."
For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Institute for Public Accuracy, 980 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045. (202) 347-0020 * accuracy.org * firstname.lastname@example.org