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North Korea nuclear testing

09 October 2006

9 October 2006 

To: UN Ambassadors of the P5, plus the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, Japan, South Korea,

cc:India, Israel, Pakistan 

Your Excellencies: 

We address this letter to the states most directly required to respond to the North Korean government's apparent test of a nuclear device today. We pray that God will help you to respond wisely, peacefully, lawfully and collectively. News of the test is frightening evidence of the permissive erosion of nuclear weapons control which has been taking place under the collective purview of the international community and its leading member states for the past several years.  

We bring international and regional implications to your attention.  

A nuclear test by a new state in 2006 is not only a new regional threat to world security. It is also a dangerous consequence of the failure to meet international political obligations and commitments especially among those governments who have taken up nuclear arms, openly or otherwise.  

When member churches from 150 countries met in the World Council of Churches' General Assembly this year, they noted the "unequivocal undertaking" made in 2000 by signatory states of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to meet their obligations and eliminate all nuclear weapons. They noted further, however, that the bargain at the heart of the NPT is broken and that, instead of progress in this field, there is crisis. Recalling six decades of church concern for the elimination of nuclear arms, they urged governments to return to and reinvigorate the NPT. 

Preventing conflict, increasing security and safeguarding human life are among the most basic responsibilities of all governments including yours. Nuclear arms control and disarmament contributes uniquely to all three. Progress is eminently possible in a climate of respect for the international rule of law.  

Fulfilling your government's obligations under the NPT, and, for those outside the treaty, joining the treaty as Non-Nuclear-Weapons States, are effective means of conflict prevention and security enhancement. Verified disarmament and verified non-proliferation are paramount measures for rebuilding that confidence in an international system that has been dissipated during the first six years of this century.  

In the East Asia region, today's event puts new urgency into a successful outcome from the Six Party Talks. North Korean nuclear testing must not be allowed to cause a chain reaction involving Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and possibly others such as Indonesia and Australia. We recall that the six-party talks begun in August 2003 in Beijing led to an agreement to work towards a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and provided real signs of hope. In that light the WCC Executive Committee, meeting in Seoul in August 2004, called for the talks to lead to a formal peace treaty in the Korean Peninsula, urged the government of the DPRK to abandon its nuclear weapons programme and make a verified return to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapons state, and urged participants in the six-party talks to give due consideration to the DPRK's concern for its security in order to resolve the crisis. The same conditions still obtain today.  

We call on each of your governments to ensure that the nuclear weapons crisis in north-east Asia is resolved politically through the negotiated settlement of grievances among the parties concerned and that it is resolved legally by a determined and general movement of States into the spirit and the letter of the NPT and related treaties under the auspices of the United Nations. 

Yours sincerely, 

Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia
General Secretary