US (and other) legislators call on President Trump to step back from the nuclear brink

United States legislators call on President Trump to step back from the nuclear brink following his threats to unleash 'fire and fury' on North Korea.

Cover photo: US Congress members Barbara Lee and John Conyers

United States legislators responded yesterday to President Trump's provocative threats against North Korea by calling on the President to step back from the nuclear brink and pursue a diplomatic solution to the escalating nuclear crisis.

On Wednesday, President Trump announced that 'North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States' or 'they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.'

The announcement sent diplomatic shock-waves around the world, and elevated the tensions between North Korea and the USA. North Korea responded that, if attacked, they would creat an 'enveloping fire' around Guam, a key US military base in the Pacific.

PNND Co-President Senator Markey responds

PNND Co-President Senator Ed Markey responded yesterday by stating that:

'President Trump’s escalatory rhetoric is exactly the wrong response to dealing with North Korea’s provocative behavior. It unnecessarily heightens the risk of miscalculation and creates the very fog that can lead to war.  Instead of scaring our allies and the American people by always trying to top North Korea’s bellicose rhetoric, President Trump should instead immediately authorize the State Department to engage in direct discussions with North Korea.  Talking is not a concession, it’s just common sense.'

Senator Markey also used the occasion to urge the Senate to remove the President's current authorisation to launch a first strike with nuclear weapons without having to consult the US Congress.

'We also must ensure that President Trump cannot turn his ‘fire and fury’ rhetoric into reality with a pre-emptive nuclear strike by passing the legislation I introduced with Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) that prohibits the President from doing so without a declaration of war from Congress.'

PNND Members Barbara Lee and John Conyers lead response in US House of Reps

PNND member Barbara Lee and Ranking Member John Conyers responded to the escalating crisis by organising a letter endorsed by more than 60 of their Democratic colleagues, which was sent yesterday to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging the Trump Administration to exercise restraint with North Korea.

“President Trump’s belligerent rhetoric towards North Korea is dangerous. It’s imperative that President Trump de-escalate tensions and pursue diplomacy with North Korea,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Instead of saber-rattling, we should be pursuing direct talks with North Korea to prevent this crisis from spiraling out of control.”

Barabara Lee also urged the Trump Administration to acknowledge Congress’s constitutional role in authorizing war.

“The fact is that there is no military solution to this problem. Moreover, the power to declare war – or undertake any pre-emptive attack – lies with Congress. President Trump and his advisors must respect the constitutional authority of Congress to debate and vote on any war operations.”

'Ratchet down the Rhetoric' says UK Labour Leader

PNND Council member Jeremy Corbyn, who also serves as the leader of the UK Labour Party, today called on the USA and North Korea leaders to 'ratchet down the rhetoric' and 'hold face-to-face talks in the interest of sanity and safety.'

'We cannot play fast and loose with nuclear weapons and nuclear threats,' Corbyn told the BBC.  'I think it's time that both Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un toned it all down a bit. Maybe even spoke to each other. I ask them both. Calm down. There are phone-calls that could be made, discussions that could be held. Surely, in the interest of sanity and safety over the whole world, do it.'

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs calls for diplomacy

PNND Honorary Council Member Federica Mogherini, who currently serves as the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in a recent address to the European Union Foreign Affairs Council, called for a diplomatic solution syaing that '...we can do more to facilitate a solution that in our view cannot be but a diplomatic and political one; for sure not a military solution for the situation in the Korean peninsula, as the South Korean have pointed out very clear.'

On August 11, 2017, Ms Mogherini announced that she will hold a special meeting of the EU Security Committee on August 14 to discuss the escalating Korean crisis and the role of the EU.

Motion in Scottish parliament for diplomacy and a NE Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone

PNND Co-President Bill Kidd submitted a motion to the Scottish parliament today calling for diplomacy to resolve the North korean crisis and highlighting the proposal for a North East Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.

'That the Parliament notes the increasing tensions and threat of military conflict arising from North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities; is supportive of a letter to President Trump, which has been endorsed by 64 members of the United States House of Representatives, reminding him that military strikes without congressional approval would violate the constitution and urging him to therefore follow a diplomatic approach, and notes also the support of US policy experts, including Morton Halperin, who it understands was a high-level policy official in the Johnson, Nixon and Clinton administrations, who support the concept of a north east Asia nuclear weapon-free zone.'

NE Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone a possible solution

In May 2010, a cross-party group of parliamentarians from Japan and South Korea proposed the negotiation of a North East Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone as a solution to the growing nuclear threat from North Korea. The group included a number of former Foreign Ministers as we as the current Foreign Minister Taro Kono, a Co-President of PNND at the time.

The group believed that a NE Asia NWFZ would be a more feasible approach than calling for North Korea to unilaterally give up its nuclear option. Informal discussions with North Korean parliamentarians and diplomats since then gives some reason to believe that they are correct in this analysis.

Katsyua Okada, one of the former Foreign Ministers who endorsed the 2010 proposal, has released a Model NE Asia NWFZ treaty based on the 3+3 model pioneered by Dr Hiromichi Umebayashi. This model would require North Korea, Japan and South Korea to agree not to possess nuclear weapons, station them on their territory, or threaten each other with nuclear weapons. The model would also require China, Russia and the United States to commit not to threaten or use nuclear weapons against Japan, South Korea or North Korea.

Dr Umebayashi will in September this year receive the international Nuclear Free Future Award in recognition primarily of the potential of his 3+3 NE Asia NWFZ to help resolve the nuclear crisis in the region.

“I am very pleased to receive the award for my efforts, especially for establishing a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, but I think I should be modest because establishing such zone is an on-going endeavor being tackled by many players. I do hope this award will help strengthen people’s power as a whole toward that goal.”

Japanese cities and religious leaders support the NE Asian NWFZ proposal

On August 9, 2017, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, called on the Japanese government to examine the NE Asia NWFZ as a possible solution to the growing nuclear crisis. The call was made in the Nagasaki Declaration, presented by Mayor Taue at the annual event commemorating the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki. 

Mayor Taue is one of 545 Japanese heads of cities and 126 Japanese religious leaders who have given their support for the NE Asian NWFZ proposal. 

US experts support NE Asia NWFZ

A number of US policy experts support the concept of a NE Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, including Morten Halperin, a high-level policy official in the Johnson, Nixon and Clinton administrations. See Promoting Security in Northeast Asia: A New Approach by Morton H. Halperin).