Global Zero Says Scuttling Talks With North Korea Is Another ‘Unforced Error’ By Trump

Earlier today, President Trump cancelled his upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un citing Kim’s “open hostility.” The news comes as North Korea announced today that they had finished demolishing the Punggye-ri spent nuclear test site.

In reaction to the announcement, Derek Johnson, executive director of Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:

“This is another unforced error from the President in his handling of the North Korea crisis. Scuttling the talks will do nothing to curb North Korea’s nuclear program. Resorting to nuclear threats as the President did in his letter today will not make America, or the world, safer or more secure.

“With Donald Trump’s stated goal of immediate North Korean denuclearization, he and Kim Jong-un were already miles apart on the agenda of this summit. Unfortunately the United States is in a weaker negotiating position than ever — with key alliances strained, South Korea humiliated, and an emboldened North Korea, which earlier today demolished its nuclear test site, cast as the reasonable party.

“Now that the United States has backed out, negotiators must find a way to bring the parties’ expectations closer together and give future talks a chance to materialize.”

In June of 2017, Global Zero’s Nuclear Crisis Group released a set of urgent recommendations to avoid the use of nuclear weapons and called on national leaders to act now to reduce the unacceptably high risk of nuclear conflict. The report called for the United States and North Korea to begin immediate discussions, without any preconditions, to reduce the risk of conflict. Full denuclearization through the “Six Party” process, including a freeze on nuclear and missile tests, production of nuclear materials, suspensions of military exercises, and negotiation of a formal peace regime will take time, but must not be allowed to prevent urgently needed discussions to avoid escalation of nuclear risk.

The following nuclear security experts and members of the Nuclear Crisis Group are available to answer questions on the escalating crisis on the Korean Peninsula:

  • Jon Wolfsthal is a senior advisor to Global Zero. From 2014 to 2017, he served as special assistant to former U.S. president Barack Obama as senior director for arms control and nonproliferation at the National Security Council. In that post, he was the most senior White House official setting and implementing U.S. government policy on all aspects of arms control, nonproliferation, and nuclear policy. Prior to that, he served as the deputy director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute for International Studies. From 2009 to 2012, he was the special adviser to former U..S. Vice President Joe Biden for nuclear security and nonproliferation and as a director for nonproliferation on the National Security Council. He supported the Obama administration’s negotiation and ratification of the New START arms reduction agreement with the Russian Federation, and helped support the development of nuclear policy including through the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review.
  • Dr. Bruce G. Blair is the co-founder of Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide. He is also a research scholar in the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Blair is an expert on expert on nuclear command and control, nuclear security policies and risks of nuclear weapons use. In 1999, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship Prize for his work on de-alerting nuclear forces. From 2000-2012, Blair was the founder and president of the World Security Institute, and from 1987 to 2000, he was a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. He served as a project director at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment from 1982 to 1985. From 1970 to 1974, Blair served in the U.S. Air Force as a Minuteman ICBM launch control officer and as a support officer for the Strategic Air Command’s Airborne Command Post.

For interviews with Global Zero leaders, please contact Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email at [email protected].