GENEVA – Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Tuesday called on parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to urge North Korea to go beyond a freeze of nuclear testing and seek a “complete, verifiable and irreversible” end to its nuclear program.
“North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs pose a grave challenge to the international nuclear non-proliferation regime,” Kono said in Geneva during the second preparatory committee meeting for the 2020 NPT review conference.
Kono said Japan welcomes North Korea’s promise last week to halt its testing of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and to dismantle its main nuclear testing site.
“We need to urge North Korea, however, to do more than what was announced,” he said.
He said the international community requires North Korea to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, or CTBT.
Kono also discussed the recommendations of a panel of experts assembled by the Japanese government for bridging the dialogue gap between countries seeking to abolish nuclear weapons and those that count on them as part of their defense.
Based on the recommendations, Kono said Japan is calling for the international community to improve the transparency of countries’ nuclear forces, establish a more effective verification mechanism for nuclear disarmament and address “hard questions” about “security concerns that may emerge from the nuclear disarmament process.”
Japan expressed fear over a further widening of the gap between the nuclear haves and have-nots to explain why it has refused to take part in a U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons adopted last year, despite seeking a world free of such weapons.
The world’s nuclear-armed states and other countries that rely on the U.S. nuclear deterrent also sat out on negotiations for the ban treaty.
“A sovereign state must protect the lives and properties of her people. We need to seek security and nuclear disarmament simultaneously,” Kono said.
He said Japan, as the only country to have sustained wartime nuclear bombings, has a “responsibility to lead international efforts towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.”
The meeting is the second of three that will be held prior to the 2020 review conference. It began on Monday and will run through May 4.
Kono’s predecessor Fumio Kishida attended the first meeting in Vienna last year.