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Gyung-Lan Jung with Women Making Peace and 21 other organizations in South Korea – WNN Opinion

Women protest against nuclear energy use and nuclear weapons in Seoul, South Korea

Women protest against a new nuclear power plant main Gwanghwamun Government General Office gate in Seoul, South Korea December 23, 2011. Image: Energy Justice Actions South Korea

In an impassioned plea for peace, twenty-two women’s organizations in South Korea make their case for a better world by asking for the circumvention of  nuclear weapons and the closing down of power reactors in the region.

(WNN) Seoul, SOUTH KOREA: We South Korean women believe nuclear weapons and power reactors are a matter of life or death. They threaten our lives, the lives of our families and all living creatures.

We Korean women remember the tragic atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945 when some 700,000 people, including 70,000 Koreans, were exposed to atomic radiation. The horror of mushroom clouds, which melted people and buildings and contaminated soil, still lingers today because more than 20,000 nuclear weapons exist on our planet.

We Korean women feel an enormous sense of crisis as we witness the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011. We are shocked once again at the destructive power of radiation seen in the loss of human lives, environmental pollution and contamination of food. We are even more shocked at the foolishness of those who continued to build nuclear reactors even after the danger of nuclear power generation was demonstrated at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit will be held from March 26-27, 2012. We South Korean women question the rationale behind this Summit. The North Korean nuclear program and the safety of nuclear power generation, two of the most urgent issues in South Korean society, are not part of the Summit’s agenda. We believe that it is more important for the South Korean government to seek resolution on these issues than to host the Nuclear Security Summit at this time.

We South Korean women want to announce our stance before the Sherpa meeting is held from January 16-17, 2012 in India to prepare for the coming Summit. This Summit will convene 47 heads of state (including those from nuclear states and nuclear power generating nations) and four leaders of international organizations. We South Korean women call these participants to give us hope by supporting our stance toward a nuclear-free world.

1. Nuclear security must start with the elimination of nuclear weapons.

At the 2010 Washington Nuclear Security Summit, leaders focused on the security of nuclear materials, but did not discuss the reduction or elimination of nuclear weapons or reactors, which should be the core issues of any nuclear talks. Consequently, participating 5 nuclear-weapon states (NWS) were criticized for imposing non-proliferation and nuclear security regulations on non-NWS, while NWS themselves did not carry out their responsibility of eliminating nuclear weapons. Although non-NPT nuclear weapon states (Israel, India and Pakistan) participated in the 2010 Summit, Iran (a member of the NPT) and North Korea (seceded from the NPT) were not invited. The world witnessed the double standards of the international community during the 2010 Summit, where discrimination was seen between NWS and non-NWS and even within the nuclear weapon countries.

We South Korean women call all nuclear weapon countries including the US, Russia, the UK, China, France, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea to eliminate their nuclear weapons and to show consistency in principle and position on these weapons at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. We believe this is the only way that nuclear security is possible.

2. Nuclear power generators must be phased out and their export must be suspended.

The South Korean government has announced that the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit will promote nuclear energy safety and its peaceful use, and that the Nuclear Industry Summit, preceding the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, will provide a place to formulate measures for safe use of nuclear power. However, we believe that the government sees the Summit as an opportunity to establish nuclear power as the next generation’s power source, despite the risks demonstrated by the Fukushima disaster.

The Summit steering committee must understand that many countries around the world are reconsidering their nuclear power generation policy after the Fukushima disaster. The Summit participants must accept the collapse of the nuclear safety myth, agree the policy to abolish nuclear reactors, suspend nuclear reactor exports and eliminate plans for new reactor construction.

3. To build a nuclear-free world, governments must cooperate with the women and civil society.

A nuclear-free world is possible only when governments around the world walk in step with their citizens, including women. The South Korean government has announced that it will consult its people in preparation for the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. So far, however, the government has cooperated only with those from industry, academia and social organizations which support nuclear energy. The South Korean government must listen to the voices of all those in society who are interested in a nuclear-free world. We call the government to build a mechanism for cooperation with the women and civil society on peace-related issues, including nuclear issues, as called for by the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

Furthermore, in preparation for the Summit, we call the international community to take a more thoughtful approach to North Korean nuclear issues, which stem from the Cold War regime still prevailing in Northeast Asia. Resolution of these issues is closely tied to the establishment of a peaceful regime on the Korean Peninsula and the normalization of U.S.-North Korean relations. It is impossible to realize peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia without solving North Korean nuclear issues.

Proactive negotiations by the six-party nations, including the U.S., are needed to solve these issues. We Korean women believe that it is crucial to hold the six-party talks as soon as possible.

In order to achieve peaceful coexistence of all living things, we must stop producing nuclear materials and begin using renewable energy. By doing so, we can realize a nuclear-free world and resolve the contradiction of the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, which claims to seek solutions to nuclear terror even as nuclear materials continue to be produced. We Korean women, in solidarity with women around the world, call for new forms of cooperation with governments in order to realize a nuclear-free world in the near future.

This formal statement was released officially by twenty-two women’s organizations in South Korea on January 13, 2012.
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Authors of this release include the Organizing Committee of the Northeast Asian Women’s Peace Conference, Korean Women’s Association United, Women Making Peace, The Women’s Committee of the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, Kyunggi Women’s Association United, Korea Church Women United, Korea Differently Abled Women United, Jeju Association for Women’s Rights, Daegu Women’s Association, Daegu Kyungbuk’s Women’s Association United, Korea Women Migrants’ Human Rights Center, Pohang Women’s Association, Korea Women Workers Association, Daejeon Women’s Association for Peace, Korea Women’s Political Solidarity, Korean Association of Women Theologians, Gwanggju Jonnam Women’s Association United, Korean Association of Christian Women for Women Minjung, Jeju Women’s Association, Korea Women’s Studies Institute, Cheonan Women’s Association, Korean Womenlink (a total 22 women’s organizations in South Korea).

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©2012 WNN – Women News Network
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