EDITORIAL Toward a nuke-free world
AS United States President Donald Trump traded insults with his nemesis North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, more than 120 United Nations members were trying to get rid of nuclear weapons from the world. They were worried that the two bombastic leaders could start a nuclear war that would destroy the world as we know it. But banning nuclear weapons is a noble cause that the superpowers with nuclear weapons are not very happy about.
Instead, the nuclear threats by North Korea and the ability of its missiles to reach the continental US, have been dominated global news headlines. Such a possibility has ignited patriotic fervour in the US, and numerous ways are being discussed how to counter North Korea. As such, the world has been kept in suspense because nobody knows if Kim will one day decide to show off his newly acquired nuclear power.
In his speech to the UN on September 19, Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if Washington is forced to defend itself. For the time being, it is important that this provocative mudslinging stops immediately. Peace should be given a chance.
Trying to save the world from nuclear annihilation, UN members came together on September 20 to sign the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Last week, when the rest of the world hailed the treaty to ban nuclear weapons, it was the superpowers with nuclear arms that refused to budge. The US has made clear that it would not give up its nuclear capability because of nuclear threats posed by many rogue countries, North Korea in particular. Others were noncommittal, even though they have pledged to support multilateral disarmament. The treaty’s signatories believed that banning the weapons under international law is a milestone in the movement toward a nuke-free world.
The 10-page treaty requires all countries that ratify it to “never under any circumstances develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”
From a regional perspective, ASEAN has been a key supporter of this treaty. Its members have adopted a common goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Representatives of ASEAN played different roles in shaping the treaty at various stages. Since 1995, it has promoted its Southeast Asian Nuclear-weaponfree Zone Treaty. But the five nuclear powers have continued to drag their feet, fearing that acceding to the treaty would compromise their security. The treaty prohibits port calls by nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. For the past 22 years, ASEAN has been trying to persuade them to sign the regional no-nuke treaty at the same time to further promote relations with dialogue partners.
It is now incumbent on all UN members to convince others to sign the new treaty to ban nuclear weapons, whether they have nuclear potential or not. That is the only way to guarantee that no leader or country will be able to destroy the world for any reason. That is the way forward to a safer world.