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‘Denuclearization’—Why stop at North Korea?

Responding to citizens everywhere who yearn for peace, political leaders in South Korea, North Korea, China and the United States staged a flurry of diplomatic activity this year to avert a Korean crisis. But we are not yet out of the woods. PSR’s health professionals advocated for peace in Korea and will continue to promote diplomacy to denuclearize not only North Korea, but the rest of the world as well.

On June 7, PSR released and delivered to Congressional offices a “Health Professional Open Letter to Congressional Leaders” on Korea with signatures from 16 prominent health professionals including presidents of national physicians’ associations as well as deans and former deans of medical schools and public health schools. PSR members met with staff for their U.S. Representatives and Senators, placed op-eds at CNN.com, the Boston Globe,  the Baltimore Sun, and Quartz (see In the News). Immediately after the June 12 Singapore summit PSR issued a statement welcoming the outcome..

PSR will continue to advocate for careful and deliberate diplomacy toward a genuine peace accord between the Koreas.  The cancellation of joint U.S. – South Korean “Freedom Guardian” military exercises that were scheduled for August will surely help the peace process.

But for now, North Korea retains its nuclear arsenal, and eight other nations cling to their arsenals as well. The harrowing months of provocations, threats and counter-threats between the U.S. and North Korea showed once again that nuclear weapons do not provide security for any nation.  As experts explored the possible military scenarios involving Korea, the world was reminded of the horrific humanitarian impact of modern warfare, especially if nuclear weapons come into play.  To remove this profound public health threat, PSR joins with International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in prescribing total elimination of all nuclear arsenals with a strategy of “stigmatize, prohibit, eliminate.”

For more on this story, see a list of relevant current Congressional legislation, a PSR report on “Where Do We Go From Here?” and an overview of reactions to the Trump-Kim Singapore summit across the American political spectrum.

On June 14, PSR Board member Dr. Ira Helfand, MD met with South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon in Seoul. Dr. Helfand explained the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons use on the Korean peninsula, and urged South Korea to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
As part of a “DC Days” delegation, Denise Duffield, PSR-LA Associate Director, (light gray suit) discussed the role of Congress in averting war with Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), May 22 in the U.S. Capitol building. DC Days is an annual event organized by Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.
On May 25, Women Cross DMZ demonstrated for peace outside the U.S. embasssy in Seoul. (Photo: OhMyNews)
On May 22, Dr. Bob Gould, President of PSR-San Francisco Bay Area and representatives from allied organizations delivered a message of support for South Korea’s work for peace at the South Korean consulate in San Francisco. Left to right: Phyllis Olin, Board President, Western States Legal Foundation; Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation; Jimin Kim, Deputy Consul General, Consulate General of the Republic of Korea, San Francisco; Bob Gould; Claire Greensfelder, NowarwithNorthKorea.org