The success of today’s summit between South Korea’s Moon Jae-in North Korea’s Kim Jong-un again shows that maximum cooperation and engagement are the only path to peaceful solutions. President Moon and Chairman Kim’s commitment to a Korean Peninsula free of the threat of nuclear weapons will make their people and the world safer. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons remains the best vehicle to achieving this vision and the clear pathway to denuclearising both North and South Korea.
How to achieve denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula
Peace is a complex process, and denuclearisation will require a long-term plan to real and lasting peace. At the Singapore Summit between Trump and Kim earlier this year, ICAN presented a five step roadmap leading to the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula
- Recognize the risk of nuclear use and the unacceptable humanitarian consequences of such use
- Reject nuclear weapons by joining the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)
- Remove North Korea’s nuclear weapons through a verifiable and irreversible plan
- Ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
- Rejoin the NPT and world community
Below, we give a brief description of what each step will entail. To read the full roadmap, including expert commentary, scroll to the bottom of this page, or download the pdf directly here.
Each step in a nutshell
#1 Recognize that nuclear weapons pose an unacceptable risk to humanity
The start to solving any problem is admitting that there is one. North Korea and the US must both recognize the risks and unacceptable humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.
#2 Reject nuclear weapons, join the Nuclear Ban Treaty
Rather than risk the kind of disputes over verification and compliance that led to the collapse of previous talks, the United States and North Korea should agree to use a multilateral process through the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The treaty, adopted by the UN in 2017, forbids the development, testing, possession, use, and threatening to use nuclear weapons. North and South Korea should immediately join the TPNW, rejecting any role for nuclear weapons in their security policies.
By joining the treaty, North Korea would commit to immediately cease any development, production, and manufacture of nuclear weapons, and irreversibly eliminating its nuclear weapons program. North Korea would be obliged to conclude and implement the highest level of IAEA non-proliferation safeguards.
South Korea would be obliged to reject the potential use of nuclear weapons on its behalf by the United States,i.e. to opt out of the US “nuclear umbrella”. The ROK would not have to end its military alliance with the United States; the TPNW does not prohibit military cooperation with nuclear-armed states and/or non-party states. The ROK could continue to rely on US extended deterrence, but not extended nucleardeterrence.
Together, these undertakings would denuclearise the Korean peninsula.
#3 Remove North Korea’s nuclear weapons in a verifiable and irreversible way
Under the TPNW, North Korea would work with a competent international authority to develop and implement a time-bound, verifiable, and irreversible plan for the total elimination of its nuclear-weapon programme. The international community would play a key role in this process by verifying the elimination of North Korea’s nuclear-weapon programme . While this is a big step, that obviously depends on North Korea’s full cooperation and willingness to disarm, verified destruction of the North Korea’s nuclear weapons could be accomplished in as little as a few years.
#4 Ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
DPRK should commit never to test nuclear weapons by ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Ceasing all nuclear-weapon test explosions would provide an effective measure of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. As a legally-binding instrument founded on a robust verification system, the CTBT would also help overcome the trust deficit that is a real impediment to progress on denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
#5 Rejoin the NPT and world community
Following the elimination of its nuclear weapons, North Korea should rejoin the Non-Proliferation Treaty. South Korea has been (and remained) a State Party to the treaty since 1975.