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North Korea: How Many Wake-Up Calls Will It Take?

North Korea has been sounding alarms since it withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003.  Its latest wake-up call in early 2016 was its fourth nuclear test.  This time it claimed to have tested a far more powerful thermonuclear weapon, although seismic reports do not seem to bear this out.

North Korea has been roundly condemned for its nuclear tests, including this one.  To put this in perspective, however, the US has conducted more than 1,000 nuclear tests, continues to conduct subcritical nuclear tests, has not ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, regularly tests nuclear-capable missiles, and plans to spend $1 trillion modernizing its nuclear arsenal.  The US and the other eight nuclear-armed countries are quick to point fingers at North Korea, but slow to recognize their own role in fanning the flames of nuclear catastrophe.

What does an awakened world actually mean?

As the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have repeatedly warned, “We must abolish nuclear weapons before they abolish us.”  This will require good faith negotiations to end the nuclear arms race and achieve nuclear zero.  And these negotiations must be convened and led by the US and Russia, the two most powerful nuclear-armed countries in the world.

If we are not awakened by North Korea’s latest test, what will it take?  What other, louder alarm is necessary for the world to come together and work toward achieving nuclear zero before nuclear weapons are used again and we all become victims of a war from which humanity will never awaken?

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David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org). 

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