WASHINGTON, D.C. — Global Zero’s Nuclear Crisis Group (NCG), a newly-formed team of seasoned diplomats, military leaders and national security experts from nuclear-armed and allied countries, released a set of urgent recommendations to avoid the use of nuclear weapons and called on national leaders to act now to reduce the unacceptably high risk of nuclear conflict.
The report comes as U.S. President Donald Trump meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Washington to discuss, among other things, the escalating crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Specifically:
- The Nuclear Crisis Group calls for the United States and North Korea to begin immediate discussions, without any preconditions, to reduce the risk of conflict.
- Full denuclearization through the “Six Party” process, including a freeze on nuclear and missile tests, production of nuclear materials, suspensions of military exercises, and negotiation of a formal peace regime will take time, but must not be allowed to prevent urgently needed discussions to avoid escalation of nuclear risk.
- The Nuclear Crisis Group welcomes the decision by the United States and Russia to resume serious strategic stability talks, which have yet to begin, and urges both governments to fully utilize existing mechanisms for diplomatic and military-to-military dialogues. Both parties should move immediately to extend the New START agreement and resolve violations of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and fully implement agreements to establish nuclear risk reduction and data exchange centers.
- Further steps to avoid and manage military incidents in the air and at sea are critical to avoiding nuclear risks, and all parties should reaffirm their desire to avoid nuclear use and refrain from making nuclear threats.
- In South Asia, the Nuclear Crisis Group calls on India and Pakistan to resume real risk reduction and strategic stability dialogues, declare their mutual desire to avoid nuclear weapons use, to keep battlefield nuclear weapons in storage only and to not deploy land-mobile nuclear systems. The two parties should establish nuclear risk reduction centers, possibly using third-party satellite data, and discuss a bilateral or multilateral nuclear test moratorium.
- The Nuclear Crisis Group concludes the risks of nuclear escalation between the United States and China remains real and urges the states to fully implement existing accident-avoidance agreements, to avoid steps that could lead to military incidents, including medium-altitude reconnaissance flights and militarization of newly-formed islands in the South China sea, and to expand military-to-military and diplomatic talks to include nuclear doctrine and transparency.
The Group, co-chaired by Amb. Richard Burt, Gen. (ret.) James E. Cartwright and Amb. Thomas Pickering, met last month in Vienna, Austria to review specific nuclear flashpoints and developed recommendations that can help prevent conflicts from escalating to nuclear weapons use.
“We were fortunate to avoid the use of nuclear weapons during the Cold War. The danger that one of several local conflicts could grow quickly to the nuclear level is very real,”said Ambassador Richard Burt, co-chair of Global Zero’s Nuclear Crisis Group.
“We must prevent a serious problem from becoming catastrophic. Any use of nuclear weapons anywhere would have global disastrous consequences,”added Ambassador Thomas Pickering, co-chair of Global Zero’s Nuclear Crisis Group.
“We continue to rely too heavily on nuclear weapons, and accept too much risk, believing we can control escalation,” explained former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs James Cartwright (USMC, Ret.), co-chair of Global Zero’s Nuclear Crisis Group.“The norm of non-use is at risk and we are not paying enough attention to those risks.”
“The frozen Korean conflict could go hot at any minute and we have no proven way to avoid escalation with North Korea,” said Jon Wolfsthal, former special assistant to President Obama and senior advisor to Global Zero.“We have to address these risks before it is too late.”
The Nuclear Crisis Group will continue to closely monitor nuclear flashpoints and update its recommendations as international developments unfold.