Sputnik: Despite North Korea making significant progress with their nuclear weapons program… is this necessarily the right response from the US? What affect will this move have on the already delicate situation?
Arthur West (AW): The response by the United States is deeply depressing. I’m afraid it’s a very worrying development and I think it could escalate tensions. The response should be concentrated on a diplomatic solution to the issues.
Sputnik: From your perspective, instead of this constant ‘one upping’ of each other from the US and North Korea, what should be done to alleviate tensions between North Korea and the West?
AW: Other countries in the world, such as the UK, should start to put pressure on America to find a diplomatic outcome to the current situation. I think that the US president and his administration should accept that any escalation will have absolutely disastrous consequences; I mean what happened in Hiroshima at the end of War World II in terms of casualties and damage.
So, there should be pressure on the United States to get into a diplomatic solution and also such countries as China and Japan should have got something to offer in terms of talks to resolve the situation.
Sputnik: Is there a worry that the provocative actions we’ve seen over the past days and weeks could inspire other countries to develop nuclear programs in a similar way to North Korea? What affect would this have on any international nuclear disarmament efforts?
AW: There is a real degree of hypocrisy here from the like of the US and the UK that speak about modernizing nuclear own weapons systems and yet they are calling on countries like North Korea to move away from nuclear weapons. So I think if we go down the current path yes it could encourage other countries to look at developing nuclear weapons and we don’t want that.
In September, 122 countries voted in the United Nations to have a global ban treaty in relation to nuclear weapons. Disappointingly, the US and the UK ignored these talks, but 122 countries voted in favor.
We need to use forums and structures, such as the UN global ban treaty, to try and move things forward. Certainly at CND we are putting pressure on the UK government to start to take that treaty seriously because over the next couple of years countries will be signing and ratifying that treaty. That offers a one way forward from the current situation towards a nuclear weapons free world.