This morning, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test and its second of 2016. These tests are becoming more frequent, and they are becoming stronger. If you are feeling anxious, you aren’t alone.
Our nonproliferation approach is not working.
Since the dawn of the nuclear age, the United States has made it a critical mission to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. We expend vast economic and military resources to that end. North Korea’s latest nuclear test proves, however, that power alone is not enough to stop nuclearization.
This is a bleak reminder that nuclear weapons aren’t yesterday’s problem, nor can they be addressed by yesterday’s policies. Our current whack-a-mole approach to nonproliferation is not working. North Korea’s latest nuclear test is a perfect example of how the world is trapped in a dangerous, reactive cycle of nuclear crisis after nuclear crisis.
But we do have a model that works: multilateral diplomacy. Last year China, Russia, the United States, Iran, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom came together to negotiate a peaceful end to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Multilateral leadership, diplomacy and pressure produced impressive results. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.
North Korea’s nuclear program is only a symptom of a much bigger issue.
Over the next days and weeks, you will witness a lot of teeth-gnashing and hair-pulling as people talk about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities and sabre-rattling.
Is North Korea’s nuclear program a serious threat that must be addressed? Absolutely. But to put it in context, the United States has about 7,000 nuclear warheads and has conducted over 1,000 nuclear tests, causing incredible environmental damage and human loss all over the world, and yet it still refuses to ratify that Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that could put an end to nuclear testing forever. The United States is also on track to spend $1 trillion over the next three decades modernizing our nuclear arsenal.
The hypocrisy of nuclear-armed states makes it impossible to address the dangers of nuclear weapons in other parts of the world. Some will tell you that you can’t equivocate, that the United States can be trusted with nuclear weapons and North Korea can’t. But there are no right hands for the wrong weapons. We must eliminate them not only in North Korea, but everywhere.
U.S. candidates must address nuclear weapons.
Current leaders and potential future leaders are not talking about these problems. They are not offering new solutions.
That is unacceptable. The next president of the United States will face big challenges posed not only by North Korea’s nuclear program, but also the wider consequences of controlling a massive nuclear arsenal that is capable of destruction on a global scale. The silence of the 2016 U.S. presidential candidates does not invite confidence. The next President must embrace multilateral diplomacy as an example for the global community. It is critical not just to curb North Korea’s nuclear program but to end the global threat of these useless, dangerous weapons. The next President of the U.S. must help to bring together the international community to address nonproliferation and disarmament.
If the candidates in the U.S. aren’t talking, it’s up to us to demand answers. Take action right now to tell both major candidates for the Presidency of the United States to be a real leader in the fight to eliminate nuclear weapons.