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North Korea: Witness to Transformation

Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament

by | July 5th, 2013 | 07:00 am

An unfortunate feature of the debate over the future of nuclear weapons is that those without them are sidelined from the conversation; the action is largely among the P5 and the rogues (among which we include not only North Korea, but the other non-NPT states India, Pakistan and Israel). Nonetheless, it is interesting to see that there is a transnational coalition of parliamentarians that convenes on the issues, grouped under the banner of the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. Moreover, there is a logic to the organization: at least in democracies, policy on these issues must go through legislatures and it is better to have informed ones rather than uninformed ones.

The spirit of the organization is clearly abolitionist, but the PNND Annual Report 2012 (.pdf) outlines the full scope of work, including discussions of the nuclear test ban, the NPT and nuclear weapon-free zones. We looked closely at the Halperin proposal—including in a point-counterpoint with Peter Hayes (here and here)—which had a NWFZ for Northeast Asia as a central feature.

Korean and Japanese legislators—backed by the PNND and the Basle Peace Office have also been advancing a version:

“In 2009, PNND member Katsuya Okada (later to become the Foreign Minister of Japan) released a model NE Asia NWFZ treaty based on a 3+3 approach, under which the three intra-zonal States would agree to prohibit the deployment of nuclear weapons on their territories and refrain from threatening each other with nuclear weapons from their allies, and the three key NWS would agree not to threaten or use nuclear weapons against the three intra-zonal States.”

In June 2012, PNND delegates met with North Korean members of the SPA, who expressed interest in the proposal.

To say that such meetings are not particularly meaningful is an understatement. But if we can ever get beyond the current impasse—a big if–having models like Halperin’s and Okada’s to play around with will be useful.