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Proposal: A Comprehensive Approach to a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone

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by Tadashi Inuzuka

There have been various, detailed proposals since the end of the Cold War for a NEA-NWFZ (Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone). At present, the three-plus-three Arrangement, including its various modifications, is considered to be a concise and pragmatic, structure. In this scheme, Japan, South Korea and North Korea would be the “Intrazonal States” and the US., Russia, and China – nuclear weapon states under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with deep ties to the region – would be the “Neighbouring Nuclear Weapon States.” The Intrazonal States would from a geographic nuclear weapon free zone and would be required to assume non- nuclear obligations similar to other NWFZ treaties around the world. The Neighbouring Nuclear Weapon States would be required to provide security assurances not to attack the zone with nuclear weapons as parties of the treaty itself rather than of its protocol.

The 2011 Proposal made by Dr. Morton Halperin, Senior Advisor of the Open Society Foundations, was significant in the framework of the shift from shame-centered arguments to approach-centered arguments. In order to overcome the difficulties towards North Korean denuclearization, he proposed taking the NEA-NWFZ as one of the six elements for a Comprehensive Agreement. The six elements are:

  1. Termination of the State of War;
  2. Creation of the Permanent Council on Security;
  3. Mutual Declaration of No Hostile Intent;
  4. Provisions of Assistance for Nuclear and Other Energy;
  5. Termination of Sanctions; and
  6. Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.

The Comprehensive Approach to the NEA- NWFZ has been supported by various parties in Japan, including: WFM-Japan, Peace Depot, Nagasaki University Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA), ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons). The Korea National Diplomatic Academy is having a conference in December 2019, with an important part of the discussion centered around NEA-NWFZ.

Considering NEA-NWFZ may fundamentally change Japan’s foreign policy from Look-East (U.S.) to Look-Around (confidence building with all neighbouring nations), I would like to request WFM to consider NEA-NWFZ as a formal agenda item at the 2020 Brussels Congress. WFM-Japan will start its campaign immediately once we have successfully secured funding from institutions in Japan, and at the same time getting approval from our May 2020 WFM-Japan Congress.

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