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 TUES 21 NOV 2017



The re-designation of the DPRK as a 'terrorist state' is neither intellectually honest – Other states who are far more deeply implicated in terrorism have escaped such designation – nor is it likely to improve the tense nuclear standoff. It does nothing to take down the diplomatic temperature, and nothing to induce the DPRK to negotiate about anything. It will produce exactly the behaviour it supposedly seeks to prevent.

The assassination of Kim Jong Nam was to be sure a barbaric act that itself has done nothing to improve matters. But the DPRK just isn't in the terrorism game when it is compared to governments that really are, such as Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. And the US itself is not above criticism.

More importantly, this re-designation trashes a window of opportunity that has existed for the past 60 or so days, in which the DPRK has neither tested a warhead nor launched anything. This was a time in which exploratory 'talks about talks' might have been taking place somewhere far from the limelight and without twitter.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's embrace of this deeply flawed initiative is disturbing. Previously, Julie has spoken in favour of taking the temperature down and negotiation. This is commonsense.

The re-designation merely takes us back to the mutually threatening postures of a month or so back. Threat begets counter-threat and pressure, far from achieving its objective, induces the DPRK to do exactly what we try to prevent them from doing. It is a strategy guaranteed to fail. Indeed ANY strategy that relies on pressuring the DPRK can be put in the 'guaranteed to fail' box.

We need first of all to slowly take the diplomatic temperature down.

First of all, do nothing at all

A Good start to this would be if nobody did anything whatsoever at all, even in the face of DPRK provocations. A time of doing absolutely nothing would be a very good idea. By doing nothing whatsoever even in the face of a possible future DPRK 'end to end' atmospheric test (should that ever actually take place), we can hope to break the perilous escalatory cycle we are now locked into.

...And yes absolutely we must have talks for the sake of talks
Following this, tentative talks about talks might take place. And following that, what is needed is a completely open-ended, completely preconditions- free dialogue about what a stable relationship between the DPRK and the rest of the world might look like. And yes, absolutely, there must be talks for the sake of talks. It beats threat for the sake of threats any time, and that is what we have now. Absent talks for the sake of talks we face a real possibility of complete catastrophe.

John Hallam
UN Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner,
People for Nuclear Disarmament
Human Survival Project
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 November 2017 09:15