Published on News24: 18 September 2017
The 72nd UN General Assembly, currently in session, presents a unique opportunity for North Korea to claim the moral high ground over their mighty adversary, the United States of America.
Ironically, the General Debate which opens on Tuesday, 19 September 2017, will have the theme: ‘Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet’. As part of this, 122 nations are expected to ratify the much vaunted ‘Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’.
High on the list of concerns is North Korea’s seemingly unstoppable ambition of becoming a fully-fledged nuclear state; and possessing a nuclear arsenal which is in ‘equilibrium’ with the world’s eight other widely recognised nuclear states – America, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Israel, India and Pakistan. Undoubtedly, North Korea’s nuclear program will be raised by the United States and other prominent nations as one of the greatest threats facing global peace.
However, if North Korea were to deliver the following speech at the General Debate, it would shoot this mainstream opinion down in spectacular fashion and redirect focus toward the overarching threat that all nuclear weapons pose to our world.
Wednesday, 20 September 2017
Kim Jong-un steps up to the lectern to address the General Assembly:
“Mr. President; Mr. Secretary General; fellow delegates; ladies and gentlemen. It’s a crazy world we live in … but the craziest notion of all has to be that some nations are entitled to possess nuclear weapons, while others are not. And, to be completely honest, it is this precise craziness that lurks at the centre of the standoff between America and North Korea.
Presented before us right now is an extraordinary opportunity … a virtuous treaty that seeks to rid the world of nuclear weapons once and for all.
It may seem like a futile endeavour, but when one considers what has been achieved through the global prohibition of other weapons of mass destruction, including biological weapons and chemical weapons, the same has to be possible for nuclear weapons. If the existence of biological and chemical weapons cannot be justified, then how can the existence of nuclear weapons?
The casualties caused by a nuclear blast via vaporisation, incineration, radiation sickness and cancer, are no less horrific that those caused by biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction … so why do we tolerate them? The truth is, we shouldn’t.
Some may argue that nations which possess nuclear weapons are more ‘civilised’ and therefore more ‘responsible’ than other nations, thus justifying their exclusivity in the ‘nuclear country club’. Any other nation seeking to join this exclusive club is immediately referred to as a ‘rogue state’, just as my proud nation has been branded.
But I ask you, what defines a ‘rogue state’?
Well, it cannot have anything to do with ‘autocratic rule’, since China possesses nuclear weapons and it is not classified as ‘rogue’. It is also largely unrelated to ethnicity or religion, since the nuclear states exhibit wide ethnic and religious representation. In my humble opinion, rogue status is defined by whether you are a friend or foe of America; and if you are a foe, whether or not you have renounced nuclear weapons. Even then, you may retain the stigma, as is the case with Iran.
Moreover, I would classify America as a rogue state as its leadership denies the existence of climate change, withdrew its commitment to the Paris Climate Accord, and encourages carbon intensive activity for economic gain. All this, despite being largely responsible for this scientifically-backed, world-changing and life-threatening phenomenon; and, critically, irrespective of fervent global condemnation. Surely this arrogant and selfish recklessness constitutes ‘rogue behaviour’.
So, I ask you … why does this rogue behaviour not warrant a single punitive measure by the international community? Why is the world not placing sanctions on the American rogue for its unilateral defiance of the majority’s desire for a sustainable planet?
With respect to nuclear weapons, Article VI in the existing Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) states that, ‘Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament.’
Has the United States not defied Article VI of this global treaty by asserting its intention to both modernise and expand its nuclear arsenal? Surely this assertion constitutes ‘rogue behaviour’? In my opinion, this is as ‘rogue’ as it gets and yet it goes both uncriticised and unpunished by the international community.
And it isn’t just America. The other nuclear states have ceased negotiations and given no indications that they intend to reduce their nuclear arsenals to the point of comprehensive nuclear disarmament. They too, are in contravention to Article VI of the NPT and, as such, should also be regarded by the greater global community as dangerously armed ‘rogue states’.
How then, can the world justify the condemnation of North Korea’s nuclear program, when the United States possesses 8 500 nuclear weapons and we possess but a small fraction of that… We should all ask ourselves who the real threat to global security is?
The uncomfortable truth is, there’s an untenable inconsistency in nuclear states believing it perfectly reasonable to possess nuclear weapons themselves, while the rest of the world cannot even contemplate it for fear of victimisation. It reeks of supremacy and should become the focus point of growing international pressure.
So, the question on everyone’s mind: how do we deescalate this potentially catastrophic standoff between North Korea and the United States?
Well, my solution is simple. North Korea will ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, on condition the other eight nuclear states ratify it as well. From there, I would agree to proportional disarmament.
This is a reasonable ultimatum that I am sure will be supported by the 122 nations that have ratified this treaty – which, may I remind you, constitutes the majority in this General Assembly.
For those of you who question my sincerity in this ultimatum, North Korea made its intentions clear by voting ‘yes’ in support of the negotiations to create a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons in October, 2016.
In closing, I ask the following critical questions: Is America prepared to risk a war on the Asian peninsula that could wipe out 10 million people? Are Americans prepared to risk the escalation of this war into a Third World War if China and Russia enter the fray?
This could well result in the mass-extinction of the human race and the destruction of our wondrous planet. Consider these questions in the context of the chosen theme of this General Debate. The time is now for the United States and other nuclear states, to ratify this treaty.
There is no justification strong enough for humanity ever to condone the existence of weapons of mass destruction. I urge all of you to set the precedent for other nations.
Lead by example … not by threat. I thank you.”
The auditorium is engulfed by silence. Sporadic applause begins to emanate from the audience. It surges until the vast majority of the Assembly are on their feet applauding.
The leaders of the eight nuclear nations remain conspicuously seated. Kim Jong-un takes a long hard look at each of them, then takes his seat…
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