ICAN Roadmap for the Denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula


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Download the illustrated roadmap 

The historic summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore captured the eyes and hopes of the world, but whether it will lead to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula remains to be seen. ICAN is in Singapore to present a roadmap – a five-step plan- to make such peace a reality, and remind leaders present and watching that a world free of nuclear weapons is possible.

ICAN’s Roadmap to Denuclearise the Korean Peninsula

Peace is a complex process. If Trump and Kim really want tomorrow’s summit to do more than just capture the world’s attention, they must embark on a long-term plan to real and lasting peace. Denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is possible, and can be achieved through the following five steps:

  1. Recognize the risk of nuclear use and the unacceptable humanitarian consequences of such use

  2. Ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

  3. Reject nuclear weapons by joining the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)

  4. Remove North Korea’s nuclear weapons through a verifiable and irreversible plan

  5. Rejoin the NPT and world community

Below, we give a brief description of what each step will entail. Or download the full roadmap including expert commentary.

Each step in a nutshell

#1 Recognize that nuclear weapons pose an unacceptable risk to humanity

The start of 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.

Post by ICRC.

#2 Ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

The United States and DPRK should both 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.

#3 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 nuclear deterrence.

Together, these undertakings would denuclearise the Korean peninsula.

#4 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.

#5 Rejoin the NPT and world community

Following the elimination of its nuclear weapons, North Korea should rejoin the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United States should pursue multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations as stipulated by NPT Article VI.
Download the full Roadmap here

So will they do it?

If the emotional-whiplash inducing history between Trump and Kim is anything to go by: we just don’t know. Like everybody else we’ll be following the summit very closely (in fact, you can follow our live updates from Singapore above).

But the rest of us don’t need to sit around and place our faith in two temperamental, ego-driven men. Whether Trump and Kim like it or not, the Nuclear Ban Treaty is a reality and the sooner it enters into force the better. Responsible states all around the world must join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. And concerned citizens all around the world can tell their elected officials that they expect their governments to take real steps toward a world free of nuclear weapons.