by Catherine Kreuter // A Campaign Nonviolence Action Organizer
As October ended and November began, members of the Utah Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons had some trick or treat issues to reflect on.
The Halloween tricks came early, actually in September. For the 4th year in a row rain accompanied our annual BEAT THE BOMB DRUM CONCERT in the park during the CNV Week of Actions. This—in Utah, the 2nd most arid state in the US! The rains with us have not been light. They have been awesome reservoir-fillers! We have gotten to the point of surrender. We would not even dream of having a drum concert without inviting Rain drumming on the pavilion roof too!
The Halloween treats have been more timely and not edible. Still, we put some weight on—joy calories! Here’s our good news in an attempt at chronological order:
First, UCAN’s Gail Blattenberger wrote a proposal for defusing the US/North Korea nuclear-arms crisis. She presented it, titled Creative Diplomacy Still Deserves A Chance [seen below], during our UCAN visit in October to US Senator Lee’s Salt Lake City office. Stay tuned.
Second, months of planning a billboard campaign have brought results! Presently, two Salt Lake City streets and one freeway site feature a large billboard which proclaims YES TO PEACE—NO TO BOMBS. Below these words, no additional text. Just our name, Utah Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
Third, on 10/31 producers of NHK World, Japanese public TV news station, joined UCAN member Deb Sawyer, president Gail, and I for lunch at Mazza Cafe. Kei Kubota, New York office, and Yoshiko Nakata, Tokyo office, wanted to talk with Utahns to ask their thinking about the current US/ North Korea conflict. They had with them an NHK sound man and camera man.
The producers chose to visit Utah because of our history of being downwinders, downwind of decades of nuclear weapons testing in neighboring Nevada. The conversation was a personal, telling of acquaintance with Hiroshima survivors, and political, telling of legislation limiting US nuclear first strikes which is now before the US Congress. It also included consideration of Gail’s proposal for a nonviolent resolution, of which NHK now has a copy.
Fourth, popular Utah radio station, KRCL 90.9 FM, invited Deb Sawyer to be interviewed on 11/1 on its 6:30 PM RadioActive program, which features discussion of issues in the news. Deb, Gail, and the NHK crew were greeted by hosts Lara Jones and Nick Burns. It was a lively interview and included listener call-ins. Here, once again, Gail’s proposal captured interest.
We’re happy about a fine week for UCAN!
Peace, Catherine Kreuter
Gail Blattenberger, Professor Emeritus Department of Economics, University of Utah
The provocative and dangerous nature of North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing is clear to the world. The appropriate response is not. There are three categories of potential response: sanctions, military actions, and diplomacy. All three have problems.
Sanctions have been in place since 2006 with little effect. Stronger sanctions are unlikely to be better, as they would affect the North Korean people but not their weapons program. Sanctions instead will boost the resolve of Kim Jung Un to continue testing and will increase the isolation of the country. This option is not promising.
The military option has enormous risks. Clearly, the United States has the military power to bomb North Korea out of existence. But to what end? There would be a catastrophic cost. In one day many thousands would die in South Korea, including several thousand American citizens. Radiation effects of a nuclear strike would be concentrated in China and Japan, but would also affect the world and its people and environment. The US would receive little support from other nations, not even its close allies. This option is counterproductive.
Diplomacy also has problems. In the past both Democratic and Republican administrations have attempted it unsuccessfully. What does Kim Jung Un want? He seems to want explicit recognition of North Korea as a nuclear state and some buffer to protect him from outside aggression. Trump’s threats intensify his argument. What do the USA and China want? They both would like North Korea to terminate its testing program. To date diplomacy has failed to achieve these goals. Are there alternative diplomatic approaches?
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signatures by the United Nations in 1996. It mandates that any member state not carry out or participate in any nuclear weapons test or any other nuclear explosion. This treaty will enter into force (EOF) after ratification by 44 nations that have a nuclear power plant or some form of advanced nuclear technology (known as Annex II States). To date 166 nations have ratified the CTBT. Of the 44 critical Annex II States, 36 have ratified it (including Russia, France, and Great Britain); eight have not (including the United States, China, and North Korea). Some of the remaining Annex II states have rationalized their delay on waiting for the United States’ ratification. It might seem the incomplete EOF status renders the treaty void.
Nevertheless, the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has become the primary monitoring institution in the world, a major achievement. There are 70 seismic stations, 11 hydro-acoustic stations (sound conducts well in the water), 60 infrasound stations, and 80 radionuclide stations currently in operation 24/7 around the world. CTBTO analysis has been paramount in the recent North Korean tests.
Given this, a plausible negotiation path might be a contingent ratification of the treaty by the USA, China, and North Korea. This proposal would give North Korea some things it wants—saving face for Kim Jung Un, recognition of North Korea as a nuclear state, and some defensive protection from outside nuclear threats. North Korea’s ratification would stipulate that North Korea not carry out or participate in any nuclear weapons test or any other nuclear explosion. Monitoring is already in effect. This is a clear win for both USA and China. Ratification would not be a major limitation for either country, as neither currently engages in testing. China has a no-first-strike law on the books. The USA has no-first-strike laws proposed in both the House and the Senate. Such an action could induce ratification by the remaining Annex II nations and thereby effect EOF status for the CTBT, benefiting the entire world.