The world does not seem to know what to make of the Kim/Trump summit. “Two vain men met in Singapore, posed for cameras and signed a joint statement,” writes Rebecca Johnson in an article for the Open Democracy website. “Neither US President Donald Trump nor North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un deserve to be trusted. So why should we be be cautiously hopeful that the Singapore summit might this time lead to more sustainable peace and disarmament in the Korean Peninsula?”
Rebecca concludes that the lack of detail in the two leaders’ joint statement is much less important than the fact that the meeting took place at all, and that both parties felt that it was in their own domestic interests that the meeting should take place.
The disastrous Korean war that lasted three years in the early 1950s cost the lives of an estimated 5 million people and left the Korean peninsula almost entirely destroyed. North Korea has long made it clear that its primary goal is to bring a formal end to the war with security guarantees from the US that it will not come under attack — “using its nuclear weapons programme to leverage access to international engagement” according to CND’s Kate Hudson (writing for the Huffington Post), and nuclear weapons have certainly gained it international recognition, presenting a very dangerous precedent for other mini-dictators.
The person to have emerged best from the past few months is South Korean President Moon Jae-in. “This is why there is cause for hope now, despite deep scepticism about the personalities, purposes and politics of Trump and Kim.... It’s about the hopes and fears of 80 million Korean people.... Instead of railing at Trump when he wobbled on 24 May Moon and Kim met again in the demilitarised zone within two days and so demonstrated that they were prepared to carry forward the Panmunjom process begun on 27 April. That is the firmer foundation for peace and security in Korea, and it can be delivered through the sustained, intelligent actions of thoughtful leaders such as Moon Jae-in who has shown remarkable understanding of how to work constructively with Kim if he is given the chance.”
Rebecca joined over a thousand Korean women in a 5km peace walk across the Unification Bridge on 26th May, just two days after Trump aggressively pulled out of his agreement to meet Kim in Singapore. “Don’t let Trump derail our peace train”/“Korean people take back the power to make peace!”
Koreans on both sides are desperate for a legally binding Peace Treaty, the normalisation of diplomatic relations and the reunification of families. This puts powerful pressure on politicians.
The Nobel-prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons issued a terse statement on the eve of the Singapore summit which could act as a blueprint for serious denuclearisation anywhere in the world (including the UK).
Peace is a complex process. Denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is possible and can be achieved through the following five steps:
- Recognise the risk of nuclear use and the unacceptable consequences of such use
- Reject nuclear weapons by joining the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)
- Remove North Korea’s nuclear weapons through a verifiable and irreversible plan
- Ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
- Rejoin the NPT and world community.
The multilateral processes of the TPNW adopted by the UN in 2017 avoid disputes over verification and compliance, with the international community playing a key rôle.
So will they do it? asks ICAN. We just don’t know, but whether Trump or Kim like it or not the Nuclear Ban Treaty is a reality and the sooner it enters into force the better. Responsible states all around the world must join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. And concerned citizens all around the world can tell their elected officials that they expect their government to take real steps towards a world free of nuclear weapons. http://www.icanw.org/projects/pledge
There will be a ‘mini plant sale’ at 43 Wilton Grove on Sunday July 22nd from 2–5pm, plus tea, cakes and chat in the garden. We have not been able to run any of our usual CND stalls at local summer fairs this year and I need to reduce my stock. Come and seek out bargains!
Sebastian Brixey-Williams has for two years been researching the potential impacts of emerging anti-submarine warfare technologies. At a Pugwash meeting on 20th April, he presented the somewhat alarming scenario of the oceans being crowded with rival unmanned military machines all keeping digital eyes upon each other. Civilian researchers don’t have access to details of developments but the trends are clear enough:
In the old game of Hiders and Seekers the Hiders had the advantage but now the balance may well be shifting. How much longer can Britain rely on our submarines remaining invisible? Sebastian Brixey-Williams was cautious about making predictions but thought that “eventually” submarines would probably become obsolete. And when asked about the prospects of a treaty to cover undersea weaponry he thought it would be unverifiable; the best we can hope for is probably some Code of Conduct. He referred to the ‘nuclear suicide drone’ Putin boasted of ahead of the recent Russian election but implied it might just have been a bluff. The Americans are “streets ahead of everyone else” with their concept of “mosaic warfare”: multiple small-scale systems all over the world. I rather doubt if readers of this newsletter find that prospect reassuring.
It is good news that the Church of England has agreed that a debate on nuclear weapons should be included in the agenda for the York Synod in July for the first time since 2007. There are also two motions on the environment: fossil fuel disinvestment and the C of E’s own carbon footprint, each providing “an opportunity to the Church to speak into the life of the Nation and the World”.
Back in 1983 a motion to scrap Trident was comprehensively defeated, much to Mrs Thatcher’s delight, but the conservatism of the Church can no longer be taken for granted. Indeed, rather strangely an article appeared in the Daily Mail online last month claiming that senior C of E clerics had changed their minds over support for nuclear ‘deterrence’. This seems to have been a bit premature but it is encouraging that the fringe meeting at the last Synod (attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself) has borne fruit so quickly. (Perhaps the Mail correspondent was present and was impressed?)
The text of the current motion has been carefully agreed to allow for as much consensus as possible and the debate will be introduced by Bishop Stephen Cottrell, a long-standing supporter of Christian CND (whose political views have not stood in the way of his preferment). Synod members will be asked to welcome last year’s UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and to urge the British Government to reaffirm its commitment to non-proliferation. Calling upon the Government actually to sign the Treaty was presumably considered a step too far.
Synod’s Mission and Public Affairs Council has produced a detailed 18pp briefing covering relevant history, ethics and theology, and suggesting that the church’s current position is both theologically and politically ambiguous. It is certainly very striking that the Established Church is out of step with fellow Christians, both Catholic and non-conformist, all of whom have already endorsed the 2017 Ban Treaty.
The Anglican Pacifist Fellowship has produced its own paper (“The Ethics of Nuclear Weapons”) raising further theological points, and suggests that churchgoers should write to their Bishop and to Synod members pointing out how they fundamentally disagree with the Church’s official position.
In the context of the much-delayed Defence Review I spotted a reference to arcane debate about whether the UK should continue to aspire to military Tier 1 status. This is Foreign Office and MoD jargon which carries much weight amongst the custodians of national prestige and has absolutely nothing to do with defence and security. Apparently one of the essential qualifications for Tier 1 status is “the ability to fight a nuclear war”. To fight?—or to win? Do these expensively-educated civil servants even pause to consider the implications of their casual acceptance of the status quo?
Young Syrian pianist Riyad Nicolas’ recital in Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, NW3 1NG, at 2·30pm on Sunday July 15th ranges from Scarlatti to the fireworks of Ravel’s ‘Gaspard de la Nuit’. Rosslyn Hill Chapel is a pleasant venue and not a difficult journey from Wimbledon — straight up the Northern Line followed by a ten-minute walk down Hampstead High Street.
Musicians for Peace and Disarmament (formerly MANA) has now been quietly raising money for the Peace Movement for 35 years and in the past year alone was able to donate a total of £6,400 to other peace organisations. Their newest patron is Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music, who was interviewed by MPD committee member and Newsletter editor Mitzi Bales.
“Music is an outstanding example of something that can be shared both internationally and at a personal level. Put several musicians with wildly varying origin and languages in a room together,” said Judith Weir, “and on the whole they become absorbed in their task and generously communicate with each other. If the whole world operated on this basis it would certainly be a more peaceful place.”
All performers at MPD concerts donate their services and the full list of MPD patrons is an impressive one from across the whole music spectrum: Sir Simon Rattle to Billy Bragg, Peggy Seeger and Frankie Armstrong.
Tickets for 15th July online http://www.mpdconcerts.org or cash on the door. £15/£10 concessions.
Our traditional commemorative candle-floating ceremony will take place on Rushmere, Wimbledon Common, as usual: we assemble at 8·30pm as it begins to get dark and it is always very beautiful and moving. We have invited local clergy and are hoping for contributions from speakers, poets and musicians. Please get in touch if you would like to contribute or if you would like to suggest useful contacts.
This year please be aware that people need to bring containers and tea lights as it will not be possible to replicate the wonderful coloured lanterns of last year. It is also essential that every scrap of debris be cleared up before we leave the Common.
The date for this important AGM has now been fixed: Sunday 19th August 12·30–2·30pm in the Common Room at Alison’s (Wilberforce House, Worple Road). Please bring and share lunch and make every effort to attend.
The Steering Group has done wonders keeping things going since May but the future needs serious discussion. We can no longer be so heavily reliant on Maisie and Joanna. WDC/CND has achieved a huge amount over 30 years or more but this does not mean that the same model should continue indefinitely. Perhaps we need to inject more fun into our campaigning? And make fuller use of social media?
We need as many of you as possible to come to this meeting, bring your creative ideas, and volunteer for actions that appeal to YOU.
Maisie (a fellow Raynes Park resident) spotted an appreciative letter about Edwin in their local Residents’ Association magazine [Raynes Park & West Barnes Guide June 2018]. This correspondent complimented Edwin on his initiative and public spirit in repairing a badly eroded and muddy path using salvaged paving stones, laid at the rate of one per day. She then went on to say “Edwin is a kind-hearted man, often seen on Grand Drive with his placards which encourage us to think of the planet and promote peace. His actions are truly altruistic — so rare these days — and deserve a mention.”
Thank you, Lizzie Bloxham of Parkway.