Statement on the imminent testing by the US of a second Inter Continental Ballistic Missile

Today, May 3rd 2017 between 12:01 a.m. and 6:01 a.m. PDT, the US will test launch a second Minuteman III Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. According to Air Force Global Strike Command, like last week’s ICBM test, “The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system.”. These missiles can be used to deploy nuclear weapons.

It is hypocritical of the US to call on North Korea not conduct missile tests while undertaking two tests of its own within 7 days.  It is also important to note that this second test takes place on the second day of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference. This treaty requires all parties to negotiate in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race.

The current crisis in the Korean Peninsula is the latest example that a world divided into nuclear “haves” and “have nots” is untenable. The possession and threat of use of nuclear weapons by a handful of states promotes, rather than discourages, conflict and the spread of nuclear weapons. Proliferation is a symptom that requires a global solution.

The persistent tensions on the Korean peninsula are rapidly escalating into a crisis fuelled by mutual fears, provocations, and the volatile temperaments of two unpredictable, nuclear-armed heads of state. The current US administration seems determined to “resolve” the situation through shows of force and military threats. The government of Kim Jong-un is accelerating its efforts to test and build nuclear weapons and missiles, while promising “massive” retaliation should the US follow through on those threats.

This is exactly how a regional nuclear war could start and escalate into a global catastrophe. The targeting of even a tiny fraction of the combined nuclear arsenals of the DPRK, US, Russia and China on cities in the Korean peninsula or elsewhere would result in a global nuclear famine putting billions of people worldwide at risk of starvation. The consequences of such a war have been described in recent years at three international conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, which reaffirmed the long-held conclusion that nuclear weapons must never be used again under any circumstances, and that the only way to ensure our survival is to prohibit and eliminate the weapons themselves.

If immediate steps are not taken to defuse the current crisis and resume diplomatic approaches to the security issues on the Korean peninsula, the world may well run out of time to prevent a nuclear disaster, despite having had more than 70 years to eliminate the most urgent threat to our common survival. No other option should be on the table.

Tens of millions of people on both sides of the demilitarized zone are literally caught in the middle of an evolving conflict that could erupt into war—potentially nuclear war—with a single misstep or ill-considered decision on either side. Not only are the lives of millions of North and South Koreans at stake; an armed conflict would inevitably draw in neighbouring countries—especially China, Russia, and Japan.

For more information call

Dr Margaret Beavis, National President MAPW - 0401 995 699