Discussion paper

Implementing a Japanese-Korean nuclear weapon free zone

Nuclear energy

Reviewing the institutional processes and problems of a Korea-Japan nuclear weapon free zone, this paper considers its feasibility, appropriate legal forms, compliance mechanisms, UN role and portential benefits.

Michael Hamel-Green of Victoria University examines "the feasibility of the proposal in the light of precedents from previous Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ) establishment; appropriate legal forms; negotiation forums and phases; governance; scope and domain; verification and compliance mechanisms and arrangements; and a UN role in negotiations and implementation".

Hamel-Green argues that such a NWFZ could "(a) build on the experience of previous NWFZs in other regions in achieving longer term denuclearization outcomes; (b) offer immediate confidence-building benefits in achieving ways through the present impasse with North Korea; and (c) provide longer term security benefits in reducing or even preventing potential nuclear rivalry between Japan and the two Koreas."

This would play, he concludes, "a very significant regional role in acting as a circuit-breaker in the current downward spiral of mistrust. It would serve to confirm and guarantee in a rigorously verified and transparent way the current non-nuclear-weapon status of Japan and South Korea, while acting as an important confidence-building step that would enable North Korea to join such a zone at a later date", where "the negative security guarantee offered under such a zone would be a powerful inducement for North Korea to join."

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