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Expression of concern on tensions in the Korean peninsula

15 January 2004

Letter to H.E. Ambassador Eui-yong Chung, Republic of Korea, 15 January, 2003


(A similar letter was also sent to the Governments of Russia, China and Japan.)

Your Excellencies,

I write on behalf of the World Council of Churches. The Council is deeply disturbed
by the recent developments around the Korean peninsula, a potential flashpoint
in the region. The tensions on the peninsula escalated after the Government
of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea decided to reactivate its nuclear
plant and expel the UN inspectors monitoring it at Yongbyon. This action has
jeopardized the framework agreement of 1994 it signed with the Government of
the United States of America to scrap its nuclear programme. The January 10th
Declaration of DPRK to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and free
itself from the binding force of the safeguards accord with the International Atomic
Energy Agency has added a new and dangerous element to an already critical situation.

Nuclear weapons, regardless of where they are and who controls them, represent
an unacceptable threat to all of humanity. There are no circumstances in which
the production, deployment and use of nuclear weapons could be conceived as
contributing to human security or carrying out the purposes of God's love.
The position of the World Council of Churches from its inception has been that
nuclear weapons promise insecurity rather than security. The 1983 WCC Assembly
in Vancouver confirmed that it is the core belief of the world-wide ecumenical
community that production, deployment as well as use of nuclear weapons are
crimes against humanity and that such activities must be condemned on ethical
and theological grounds.

The World Council of Churches has long been actively engaged in efforts to assist
and enable churches in both South and North Korea to come together in fellowship
to work towards peaceful reunification of the country. The Council started
this process in 1984, with a consultation in Tozanso, Japan, that was followed by
a series of meetings in Glion, Switzerland between 1986 and 1990. In pursuance
of its efforts to promote peace, the Council and its members have also supported
the "Sunshine Policy" of President Kim Dae Jung for eventual re-unification of the
Korean people and peace in Korea.

The World Council of Churches views with grave concern the decision of the
North Korean Government to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and
free itself from the obligation under the safeguards accord with the International
Atomic Energy Agency. Such blatant breach of the international rule of law, if
allowed to go unchallenged, can plunge the world into anarchy and chaos that
the international community can ill afford. It is therefore incumbent on the comity
of nations to ensure the sanctity of all international treaties and agreements.

The recent rift between the United States and North Korean relations, with the
consequent decision by North Korea to revive its nuclear programme, poses a
serious threat to peace and stability in the region.

The World Council of Churches is of the considered view that the way forward
to avoid a nuclear conflagration in the Korean peninsula is through engagement
and dialogue and not through military confrontation. We therefore, through Your
Excellencies, urge the Governments of Russia, the Peoples Republic of China,
Japan and the Peoples Republic of Korea to persuade the Government of DPRK
to renounce the decision to revive its nuclear programme and to allow the inspectors
to return. The Governments of DPRK and the US should adhere to the terms
of non-aggression as agreed in 1994 and 2000.

Sincerely,

Peter Weiderud
Director