Cut nuclear weapons, ‘four wise men’ urge

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Cut nuclear weapons, ‘four wise men’ urge

Four prominent political and diplomatic veterans in Seoul jointly expressed support for the international effort to curb the use of nuclear weapons and urged Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

The move follows a series of similar joint declarations made by political heavyweights in countries like the United States and Japan to reaffirm their support for arms reduction efforts. In Korea, the four veterans were former Prime Minister Lee Hong-koo, former Foreign Minister Han Sung-joo, former National Assembly Speaker Park Kwan-yong and former Army chief of staff, Paik Sun-yup. It was the first time such high-profile figures came together to support international nuclear reduction efforts.

In a “Statement on a world free of nuclear weapons,” the four elder statesmen urged the U.S. and Russia, the states with the largest nuclear arsenals, to “continue to accelerate substantial arms reduction,” and asked other nuclear states to join reduction negotiations.

They also urged North Korea to return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Yesterday’s address in Seoul was in response to a Jan. 19 joint statement published in the Wall Street Journal by William Perry, former U.S. secretary of defense; George Shultz, former secretary of state; Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state; and Sam Nunn, former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In their statement entitled, “How to protect our nuclear deterrent,” the former U.S. officials urged Washington to make more efforts on “nonproliferation, risk reduction and arms reduction goals,” for the long-term goal of “achieving and maintaining a world free of nuclear weapons.”

The four former Washington officials, since their first joint statement published in the same newspaper in 2007, have often jointly proposed ideas for nuclear arms reduction. They inspired similar pledges by politicians and diplomats in countries such as Germany and Sweden.

The four Koreans said yesterday they “highly appreciate” the initiatives proposed by the U.S. statesmen and mapped out their own suggestions, including bringing into force the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, or CTBT. The CTBT, which bans all nuclear explosions in all environments, for military or civilian purposes, was adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 1996 but has not been fully ratified.

By Jung Ha-won []
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