Is a Nuclear-free East Asia Possible? Opportunities and Constraints – Report from the 6th Jeju Forum Panel, May 28, 2011
Attachment A: Twenty Key Questions on Nuclear Abolition in East Asia
A. Reality Checking: Nuclear Deterrence
- Let’s start with nuclear extended deterrence. Is it still operative today? If so, is the role different from during the Cold War?
- The United States extends not only conventional, but nuclear deterrence to its allies. Is this a meaningful extension of nuclear deterrence to its allies when it has no nuclear weapons located in the region except for strategic submarines?
- Can conventional deterrence substitute effectively for the historical role of nuclear threat in relations between states in the region?
- Whatever its fierce nuclear threat rhetoric, does North Korea pose a worrisome nuclear threat, in reality?
- Doesn’t the withdrawn and rather bad shape of US nuclear forces in general, except for the strategic submarines, mean that nuclear deterrence is a weak basis for national or regional security? After all, what is the likelihood that the US would ever fire nuclear weapons in a conflict in this region except as part of an all-out war with another Nuclear Weapons State?
- Could Japan, Korea, or Taiwan, go it alone, without US nuclear extended deterrence?B. China
- As the US and Russia reduce their strategic nuclear weapons from active duty, at what force levels should China become party to global strategic nuclear weapons reduction talks?C. Japan & S. Korea
- After Fukushima, the vision of a plutonium-fuelled energy security strategy is under attack in Japan and Korea. If these countries were to forego the vision—or is at an expensive fantasy–of an energy future based on reprocessing and recycling of plutonium, would this make it easier or harder to achieve a nuclear weapon free zone in this region?
- Why doesn’t it make sense for Japan and South Korea to declare their own nuclear weapon free zone, recognizing that nuclear extended deterrence really amounts today to no more than existential nuclear deterrence, and therefore, they do not gain from having nuclear weapons in their territory under any circumstances?
- Can Japan and South Korea ever trust each other enough to forego the latent threat of nuclear proliferation, currently restrained and hidden from view by their nuclear alliances with the US?D. North Korea related:
- If the North Koreans were to use a nuclear weapon, what would be the appropriate response by the United States and its allies?
- What would it take for the North Koreans to give up their nuclear weapons? Do the other non-nuclear countries in the region have to wait for them to disarm before declaring their territories to be forever nuclear free?
- If the Six Party talks do not resume, or do so and are stalled again, what alternative frameworks exist in which to constrain and stabilize the effects of the North Korean nuclear weapons capacities?E. NWFZ
- Is the complete removal of nuclear weapons from the region realistic given the mutual perceptions of threat and regional insecurities?
- Does Japan support a nuclear weapon free zone in this region, even in principle? What about Korea? China?
- Japan has over 800 cities that have declared themselves to be “nuclear weapon free zones.” South Korea has 4. China, none. Why the difference? What does it mean?
- Are Japan and Korea already de facto NWFZs, due to their domestic and international commitments to remaining non-nuclear, and to the effective recession of US nuclear weapons from the region?
- What are the lessons from the other nuclear weapons free zones in the Asia-Pacific region—the names of them—for Northeast Asia?
F. Non-state actors & Nuclear Terrorism
- Some American strategists believe that even after all nuclear weapons are dismantled, the ability of the United States to reconstitute their nuclear forces faster than anyone else would be a form of deterrence that allies could rely upon enough to forego their own nuclear options. Is this true?
- Are the countries in this region prepared to control nuclear materials and related technology for weapons development to the degree required to ensure that non-state actors cannot acquire or use them against the region, or threaten to do so, for example, by taking a city hostage? What would it take to really deter and defend against nuclear terrorism? What will happen “the day after” a terrorist takes a city hostage or blows it up with nuclear weapons