Nuclear Non-proliferation: WCC asks Governments to Exert Influence

Jan 20, 2003 11:30 AM EST

When the People's Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced (10 January) its decision to reactivate its nuclear programme and expel UN inspectors present in the country, the World Council of Churches (WCC) was swift to react. On 15 January, the WCC's Commission of Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) asked the governments of Russia, China, Japan and South Korea to urge the DPRK to reverse its decision.

In a letter addressed to all four governments, the WCC/CCIA noted that North Korea's decision jeopardizes a 1994 agreement by North Korea (with the US government) to scrap its nuclear programme. By thus effectively withdrawing from a 2000 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and a safeguards accord with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the DPRK "poses a serious threat to peace and stability in the region", CCIA director Peter Wiederud warned.

The letter invokes both the Council's general position on nuclear weapons, and its long-term active engagement in the cause of peaceful reunification of South and North Korea. The WCC holds that "nuclear weapons, regardless of where they are and who controls them, represent an unacceptable threat to all of humanity". As such, they "promise insecurity rather than security" and "must be condemned on ethical and theological grounds".

Copies of the letter were also sent to the DPRK ambassador in Switzerland and to the US permanent representative to the UN in Switzerland. An accompanying note suggested to both governments that they would do well to "take immediate steps to engage in dialogue to resolve their differences and adhere to terms of non-aggression agreed in 1994 and 2000".

By Albert H. Lee
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