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US, South Korean and International Civil Society Organizations Call for the Suspension of US-ROK Combined Military Exercises

387 US, South Korean, and International Organizations Urge Biden Administration to Suspend US-South Korea Joint Military Exercises

On 1/27/21, a statement endorsed by 110 U.S., 197 South Korean, and 80 international civil society organizations was sent to the Biden administration urging the suspension of annual combined military exercises with South Korea in order to restart diplomacy with North Korea. 

In the statement, the groups note these “costly and highly provocative war exercises” — which are based on operation plans that reportedly include pre-emptive strikes and “decapitation measures” against the North Korean leadership — heighten military and political tensions on the Korean Peninsula. As such, they are a major obstacle to a peaceful resolution of the ongoing 70-year-old Korean War. Suspending these war drills will be a major confidence-building measure and create the conditions for genuine diplomacy with North Korea in order to finally resolve the security crisis on the Korean Peninsula. 

“These war drills are expensive, provocative, and consistently provoke North Korea to take military actions in response,” said Retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel Ann Wright of the Korea Peace Campaign of Veterans for Peace. “If the United States’ goal is to reduce tensions, not increase them, then suspending these military exercises will be an important step forward.” 

Hyun Lee of Women Cross DMZ and Korea Peace Now said, "The majority of citizens on the Korean Peninsula want peace talks, not war drills and military confrontation. It's their lives that are at risk from the possibility of military exercises leading to mistakes and accidents that may cause disastrous military confrontation.”

Individuals can add their voices to the call for suspension of military exercises by signing this petition. 

Organizing groups are Korea Peace Campaign of Veterans for Peace; Korea Peace Network; Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network; Peace Treaty Now; Women Cross DMZ; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Civil Peace Forum; Korean Women’s Movement for Peace; and South Korean Committee on June 15th Joint Declaration.

"US Must Commit to Arms Reduction If It Wants North Korea to Do So," by Hyun Lee, Truthout, Dec. 28, 2020

Here’s the dilemma facing Washington. On the one hand, the U.S. doesn’t want to allow North Korea to have nuclear weapons because that may encourage other countries to do the same. (Washington is already busy trying to halt Iran’s nuclear ambition, while a growing number of conservative voices in Japan and South Korea are also calling for acquiring their own nukes.)

The U.S. has tried to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons through pressure and sanctions, but that approach has backfired, hardening Pyongyang’s resolve to hone its nuclear and missile technology. North Korea says the only way it will give up its nuclear weapons is if the U.S. “abandons its hostile policy,” — in other words, takes reciprocal steps toward arms reduction — but so far, Washington has made no moves nor indicated any intention of moving toward that goal. In fact, the Trump administration continued to conduct joint war drills with South Korea and tightened enforcement of sanctions against North Korea despite its commitment in Singapore to make peace with Pyongyang.

Enter Joe Biden. How will his team resolve this dilemma? Repeating the same failed approach and expecting a different result would be — well, you know how the saying goes.

(Read full article here.)

"For Biden, the answer to North Korea is now impossible to ignore," by Christine Ahn, The Hill, Dec. 18, 2020

One of the biggest foreign policy challenges the Biden administration will have to face is a nuclear-armed North Korea. Donald Trump’s personal diplomacy failed to achieve any progress on peace or denuclearization, despite his claims otherwise.

But if Biden thinks that being tougher is the answer, don’t be surprised to see ramped up tensions between the U.S. and North Korea next year. Such a scenario would be more dangerous than ever.

That’s because despite being one of the most isolated, pressured and sanctioned countries in the world, North Korea’s nuclear weapons arsenal continues to grow, and its intercontinental ballistic missiles may have the capability to strike anywhere on the U.S. mainland. While Pyongyang has not tested a long-range missile or nuclear weapon since the 2018 Singapore Summit, many speculate that it’s only a matter of time before they do. 

Instead of waiting for that to happen, the incoming Biden administration should take some steps now to pave the way for a diplomatic breakthrough.

To begin with, President-elect Biden should immediately abandon the Trump administration’s failed maximum pressure campaign and acknowledge that sanctions, diplomatic isolation and threats of military action have failed. Experts increasingly recognize that continuing to demand North Korea’s unilateral disarmament at the front end of a deal is a recipe for failure.

Biden must signal to North Korea that the U.S. will honor the Singapore Declaration and is ready to engage without preconditions. His administration must take a step-by-step diplomatic process to build trust and reduce tensions. “All or nothing” demands have failed. Washington cannot realistically expect Pyongyang to unilaterally disarm before providing any sanctions relief, security guarantees or other incentives.

Most crucially, the Biden administration must tackle the root of the problem — the unresolved state of war between the U.S. and North Korea.

Click here to read full article.

"Iran’s Covid-19 Death Toll Is Rising. Show Mercy, Mr. Trump." -- Editorial Board, New York Times, Oct. 13, 2020

In 2003, when an earthquake killed thousands in the Iranian city of Bam, President George W. Bush set aside years of animosity and sent an airlift of rescuers and medical supplies. He also temporarily eased some restrictions on sending money and goods to the country. “American people care and we’ve got great compassion for human suffering,” Mr. Bush told CNN in the aftermath of the quake. “It’s right to take care of people when they hurt.”

This fall, as the Covid-19 death toll continues to climb in Iran — the hardest-hit country in the Middle East — the Trump administration has shown little mercy. The U.S. government has voiced its opposition to Iran’s request, still unfulfilled, for a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to help combat the coronavirus pandemic. As Iran surpasses half a million cases and more than 27,000 deaths, the administration is adding new sanctions on a country that was already struggling to buy essential medicines.

Last week, the Trump administration sanctioned 18 Iranian banks, which appear to have been the last financial institutions with international ties left untouched by Treasury Department sanctions. The announcement was the latest move in an effort to hermetically seal the Iranian economy off from the rest of the world. Under previous administrations, sanctions against Iranian banks were accompanied by claims that they had helped facilitate terrorism or the development of nuclear weapons.

Under the Trump administration, being Iranian is crime enough. The list of new financial pariahs includes Bank Maskan, which specializes in mortgages, and Bank Keshavarzi Iran, which lends to farmers. This sweepingly broad application of sanctions amounts to collective punishment for tens of millions of innocent Iranians who are already suffering under a brutally repressive regime. (Click here to read full opinion.)

Letter to the Editor on Iran Sanctions

Published in the Trenton Times, 10/14/2020

Dear Editor,

On October 8, the Trump Administration imposed draconian new sanctions on Iran, which include the threat to violently board Iranian cargo ships to enforce them. This is an utterly reckless and potentially catastrophic provocation that could lead to war—a real “October surprise” by a President far behind in all major polls. Unfortunately, with so much campaign noise, this step to the precipice of war has been ignored.

Even before COVID-19, U.S. sanctions on Iran were the source of immense suffering. New U.S. sanctions will only make it far more difficult for people in Iran to access critical medical equipment and humanitarian aid.

Trump’s maximum pressure campaign has meant maximum failure. U.S. sanctions only strengthen hardliners in Iran by allowing them to deflect blame for their people’s suffering, rally support against an external threat, and justify the repression of grassroots peoples’ movements for systemic change.

Broad, sectoral sanctions are war by another name. Their intended purpose is to inflict such pain on the population as to provoke regime change. To prevent the very real danger of war, the U.S. must end its deadly sanctions, disavow the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign and re-engage in good-faith, multilateral diplomacy. For more information, visit peacecoalition.org.

The Rev. Robert Moore

The writer is Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action.


"Is Mike Pompeo preparing an October Surprise?" by Trita Parsi, Responsible Statecraft, Sept. 16, 2020

With less than seven weeks left until the U.S. presidential elections, the faction within the Trump administration aligned with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seems to be preparing the ground for an October Surprise — a confrontation with Iran that will be cast as both defensive and lawful. The first direct clash may take place as early as this coming Monday.

[...] Suddenly, less than six weeks before the crucial November elections, the United States will be in a new war. The timing could not be more convenient.

Of course, going to war is a risky political move. Though the public tends to rally around the sitting president initially, the effect can be short lived if questions arise about the defensive nature of the fighting. The more Iran is seen as the aggressor, the more people will rally around Trump, and the more he will benefit electorally.

(Click to read the full article.)

"Would Trump Go to War With Iran to Get Reelected?" by Bob Dreyfuss, The Nation, Aug. 13, 2020

The administration’s escalating aggression toward Iran could be leading to a full-blown war ahead of the November election.

Was Donald Trump’s January 3 drone assassination of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani the first step in turning the simmering cold war between the United States and Iran into a hot war in the weeks before an American presidential election? Of course, there’s no way to know, but behind by double digits in most national polls and flanked by ultra-hawkish Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump is a notoriously impetuous and erratic figure. In recent weeks, for instance, he didn’t hesitate to dispatch federal paramilitary forces to American cities run by Democratic mayors and his administration also seems to have launched a series of covert actions against Tehran that look increasingly overt and have Iran watchers concerned about whether an October surprise could be in the cards.

Much of that concern arises from the fact that, across Iran, things have been blowing up or catching fire in ways that have seemed both mysterious and threatening. Early last month, for instance, a suspicious explosion at an Iranian nuclear research facility at Natanz, which is also the site of its centrifuge production, briefly grabbed the headlines. Whether the site was severely damaged by a bomb smuggled into the building or some kind of airstrike remains unknown. “A Middle Eastern intelligence official said Israel planted a bomb in a building where advanced centrifuges were being developed,” reported The New York Times. Similar fiery events have been plaguing the country for weeks. On June 26, for instance, there was “a huge explosion in the area of a major Iranian military and weapons development base east of Tehran.” On July 15, seven ships caught fire at an Iranian shipyard. Other mysterious fires and explosions have hit industrial facilities, a power plant, a missile production factory, a medical complex, a petrochemical plant, and other sites as well.

“Some officials say that a joint American-Israeli strategy is evolving—some might argue regressing—to a series of short-of-war clandestine strikes,” concluded another report in the Times.
Some of this sabotage has been conducted against the backdrop of a two-year-old “very aggressive” CIA action plan to engage in offensive cyber attacks against that country. As a Yahoo! News investigative report put it: “The Central Intelligence Agency has conducted a series of covert cyber operations against Iran and other targets since winning a secret victory in 2018 when President Trump signed what amounts to a sweeping authorization for such activities, according to former US officials with direct knowledge of the matter… The finding has made it easier for the CIA to damage adversaries’ critical infrastructure, such as petrochemical plants.”

Meanwhile, on July 23, two US fighter jets buzzed an Iranian civilian airliner in Syrian airspace, causing its pilot to swerve and drop altitude suddenly, injuring a number of the plane’s passengers.

For many in Iran, the drone assassination of Soleimani—and the campaign of sabotage that followed—has amounted to a virtual declaration of war.


In addition to military pressure and fierce sanctions against the Iranian economy, Washington has been cynically trying to take advantage of the fact that Iran, already in a weakened state, has been especially hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.


But the Iranian leadership can read a calendar, too. Like voters in the United States, they know that the Trump administration is probably going to be voted out of office in three months. And they know that, in the event of war, it’s more likely than not that many Americans—including, sadly, some hawkish Democrats in Congress, and influential analysts at middle-of-the-road Washington think tanks—will rally to the White House. So unless the campaign of covert warfare against targets in Iran were to intensify dramatically, the Iranian leadership isn’t likely to give Trump, Pompeo, and crew the excuse they’re looking for. (Click here for full article.)

"Coronavirus and the IAEA reports: From maximum pressure to humanitarian détente with Iran," by Robert J. Goldston, April 6, 2020, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

"Ultimately the world needs the United States and Iran to return to the negotiating table. Out of the most minimal of humanitarian concerns, the Unites States should turn down the heat on maximum pressure and allow Iran to purchase medical and other needed supplies on the world market, using funds gained from limited oil sales. At the same time, Iran should continue to support the enhanced verification and monitoring prescribed under the JCPOA and commit to limiting enrichment to the current level of 4.5 percent. When given assurances that openness will be treated positively, Iran should provide the IAEA with the information and access required in its NPT safeguards agreement. Under a policy of humanitarian détente, the United States and Iran could return to the negotiating table, without preconditions, and begin the task of rebuilding the trust needed to forge a new agreement." (Click here to read full article.)


"US Staged 'Limited' Nuclear Battle Against Russia in War Game," The Guardian, by Julian Borger, Feb. 24, 2020

"The US conducted a military exercise last week which simulated a “limited” nuclear exchange with Russia, a senior Pentagon official has confirmed.

The war game is notable because of the defense department’s highly unusual decision to brief journalists about the details and because it embodied the controversial notion that it might be possible to fight, and win, a battle with nuclear weapons, without the exchange leading to an all-out world-ending conflict.

“The scenario included a European contingency where you are conducting a war with Russia, and Russia decides to use a low-yield limited nuclear weapon against a site on Nato territory,” a senior official said. “And then you go through the conversation that you would have with the secretary of defense and then with the president, ultimately, to decide how to respond.”

The limited response could suggest the use of a small number of nuclear weapons, or an existing low-yield weapon, or the new W76-2 low-yield submarine-launched missile which was deployed in the Atlantic for the first time at the end of last year. The deployment only became public at the end of January.

Arms control advocates are concerned that the leadership in both the US and Russia are developing a mindset in which their vast nuclear arsenals are not just the ultimate deterrent but weapons that could be used to win “limited” conflicts." (Click here to read the full article.)

"The Dire Consequences of Trump's Suleimani Decision," by Susan Rice, New York Times, Jan. 4, 2020

"Americans would be wise to brace for war with Iran.

Full-scale conflict is not a certainty, but the probability is higher than at any point in decades. Despite President Trump’s oft-professed desire to avoid war with Iran and withdraw from military entanglements in the Middle East, his decision to order the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s second most important official, as well as Iraqi leaders of an Iranian-backed militia, now locks our two countries in a dangerous escalatory cycle that will likely lead to wider warfare.

How did we get here? What are the consequences of these targeted killings? Can we avoid a worse-case scenario?" (Click to read full piece.)

Letter to the Editor on Trump's Failed Diplomacy, Jan. 2, 2020

This New Year has begun with dramatically increased US military conflict with Iran and no restraints on its ability to obtain nuclear weapons; and North Korea’s leader cancelling the suspension of his nuclear warhead and ICBM testing.

Rather than being the master deal-maker he purports to be, Donald Trump has torpedoed the Iran Nuclear Agreement that verifiably kept Iran at least a year away from obtaining a bomb. In addition, two summits with Kim Jong Un yielded only stalemated negotiations.

Trump’s agreement to two Summits with no specific steps agreed on in advance was doomed to failure. Previous US presidents wisely avoided this. Trump’s extreme demands against even partial lifting of US sanctions unless North Korea destroyed its entire nuclear arsenal and weapons infrastructure guaranteed no progress.

Ambassador Wendy Sherman keynoted our November 2018 Princeton peace conference. She presented an overview of the step by step diplomatic effort she led to achieve the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement, which had prevented Iran from having nuclear weapons capability and significantly reduced Iranian military adventurism in the Middle East.

To see a video of Amb. Sherman’s talk and/or to support our Diplomacy, Not War Campaign to peacefully resolve these conflicts, visit peacecoalition.org.

The Rev. Robert Moore

The writer is executive director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action.

Diplomacy, Not War for Turkey, Syria & the Kurds!

Since President Donald Trump's impulsive decision to suddenly reverse US policy on Turkey and the Syrian Kurds--who were US allies in the fight against ISIS--the disaster predicted is now becoming reality.

Virtually all of Trump's national security team, as well as many Republican officials, strongly opposed this reversal and warned against it. After a phone call with Turkey's dictator, Trump did it anyway.

We especially want to recommend for your reading the two articles below. 

"Trump Isn't Really Ending Endless Wars, He's Making Them Worse," by Jon Rainwater, Common Dreams, Oct. 13, 2019

"Civil war and foreign interventions in Syria have created a geopolitical Gordian knot, an intractable humanitarian crisis, and a maddeningly complex conflict zone of wars within wars. It should come as no surprise that an erratic leader like President Donald Trump would make the suffering worse.

The complexity of the crisis can create cognitive dissonance. What if I desperately wish to end our endless wars but I also care about the fate of Kurdish and other Syrian civilians? What if I wish U.S. hadn't invaded these countries in the first place but I now worry that Trump's recklessness will make matters worse?

There is a coherent strategy that can cut this Gordian knot, but it involves imagining a new U.S. foreign policy based on diplomacy and humanitarian initiatives." (Click here to read full opinion.

"Diplomacy Could Have Prevented the Bloodshed in Northeastern Syria," FCNL Statement by Diane Randall, Oct. 10, 2019

"The U.S. military presence in Syria was never authorized by Congress and must come to an end. But the sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops without consulting our allies or our nation’s own military and diplomatic experts – without plans to protect the thousands of civilians and refugees living there, enable the delivery of humanitarian aid, or guard captured ISIS fighters – can only mean a humanitarian and security disaster.

Careful diplomacy by the Trump administration with all the regional stakeholders, including Syria, Turkey, Russia, the Kurds, and Iran, could have prevented this. Their involvement is desperately needed going forward.

Before ordering the drawdown of U.S. troops, President Trump should have obtained guarantees from Turkey, a NATO ally, to ensure the safety and well-being of all civilians living in northeastern Syria. The Trump administration should have worked with European and other countries to repatriate their citizens detained in prison camps in Kurdish-controlled Syria for fighting with ISIS. The administration also should be encouraging the United Nations to negotiate an end to the civil war in Syria and all the conflicts in the region.

Diplomacy and international cooperation are the most effective and principled means of preventing violence and resolving conflict. Attempting to impose the will of the U.S. on others using force is rarely successful in the long run, and carries unacceptable human, economic, moral, and environmental costs.

Continued U.S. military involvement in Syria is unjust, unwise, and unsustainable. It is not in the interests of the Syrian or American people.

The dire results of this unilateral move by President Trump underscore the importance of securing congressional authorization before engaging U.S. troops in overseas conflicts. We call on Congress to exercise its responsibilities under the Constitution to debate and vote before allowing the U.S. to be drawn into armed conflict."

"Turkey’s military aggression in Syria is as unlawful as Russia’s in Ukraine, expert says," Shannon Roddel, Notre Dame (University) News, October 15, 2019

"Turkey continues its military operation in northeast Syria to control a major swath of Syrian territory, moving the Kurdish population far from its border, and Notre Dame Law School Professor Mary Ellen O’Connell, a renowned expert on international law, calls it lawless.

“Turkey’s ground and air offensive on Syria, made possible by a United States military withdrawal, violates the fundamental law of the international community,” O’Connell says. “Operation Peace Spring is in breach of the central principle of the United Nations Charter, the prohibition on the use of force. Any serious violation of the prohibition is aggression.

“The new offensive is not Turkey’s first unlawful attack on Syria,” she says, “though it is the most serious. This time Turkey’s military objective is to take and hold a 20-30 mile ‘buffer zone’ along the entire Turkish-Syrian border. It will then move 2 to 3 million Syrian refugees into the zone. ‘Buffer zone’ is not a term of art in international law but ‘occupation zone’ is. That is what Turkey has planned, and it, too, will be unlawful.”" (Read full article here, along with short video.)

"The Only Way to End 'Endless War,'" by Stephen Wertheim, New York Times, Sept. 14, 2019

"Like the demand to tame the 1 percent, or the insistence that black lives matter, ending endless war sounds commonsensical but its implications are transformational. It requires more than bringing ground troops home from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. American war-making will persist so long as the United States continues to seek military dominance across the globe. Dominance, assumed to ensure peace, in fact guarantees war. To get serious about stopping endless war, American leaders must do what they most resist: end America’s commitment to armed supremacy and embrace a world of pluralism and peace." (Read full opinion here.)

"Attacking Iran is Congress's Call," by The New York Times Editorial Board, June 20, 2019

"With opposing military forces in such proximity, with accusations and munitions flying and with the White House facing a trust deficit, the danger of open conflict increases by the day. Which is why, if Mr. Trump and the Warhawk Caucus — led by the national security adviser, John Bolton; the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo; and Senator Tom Cotton — want a wider military conflict with Iran, they first need to persuade Congress and receive its approval.

Mission creep has unfortunately become standard operating procedure for the Pentagon in the post-9/11 world, and it is long past time that the legislative branch reclaimed its central role in overseeing war waged in the name of the American people." (Click to read full article). 

"Iran shot down an American drone on Thursday, in the latest sign that President Trump and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, may be on a collision course. Both say they don’t want a war but each feeds off the other, and both have behaved recklessly in ways that increase the risk of conflict.

So, whatever the outcome of this immediate crisis over the shooting down of the drone (in which each side says the other is the aggressor), we’re facing very real risks of a cycle of escalation, without good face-saving exit ramps for either Trump or Khamenei. This could get scarier." (Click here to read full article)

Letter to the Editor on Trump's Failed Approach to "Diplomacy"

This letter has been submitted to publications in the region. 

May 22, 2018

Dear Editor:

Donald Trump’s unilateralist, “my way or the highway” approach to international relations is counterproductive and a complete failure.
One example is Trump withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Agreement and instead ramping up sanctions and making military threats.

Rather than continuing the success of the Agreement verifiably keeping Iran at least a year away from nuclear weapons capability since 2015, it was just announced they are resuming activities to enable them to get the Bomb more quickly.

Increased sanctions geared toward “forcing” Iran to do Trump’s will insults their national pride and only triggers resumption of pursuit of a Bomb. Even worse, sending US military forces into the area dramatically increases the horrifying danger of a war by miscalculation by either side.

Earlier, the same approach to North Korea, which already has an estimated 60 nuclear bombs and possibly the capability to use them to attack the US, led to two failed Summits and North Korea continuing to increase its nuclear arsenal unabated.

Sustained, tough, realistic step by step diplomacy is the only proven way to prevent war and reduce the growing nuclear danger. Readers wanting to support Diplomacy, Not War can visit the Coalition for Peace Action web site peacecoalition.org.


The Rev. Robert Moore

The writer is Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action.

 "How to Stop the March to War With Iran," by Wendy Sherman, the New York Times, May 15, 2019

"The best way to avoid war is to talk with Iran, which President Trump has said he wants to do. Prisoner-swap negotiations, to bring home Americans imprisoned or missing in Iran, could create an important channel of communication, and the leadership in Tehran is open to this. But a leader-to-leader meeting can happen only if the United States rejoins the nuclear deal — and at this point that unfortunately seems unlikely.

The good news is that Congress, America’s allies and others can intervene to avert a disastrous conflict." (Click here to read full op-ed.)

Letter to the Editor on Danger of War with Iran, May 8, 2018

Published in the Home News Tribune, May 10, 2019

Dear Editor:

Reports of a US aircraft carrier being sent toward Iran to counter a supposed imminent threat are eerily reminiscent of the lead-up to the Iraq War, one of the biggest boondoggles in US military history. John Bolton, one of the same war mongers who advocated that disastrous war of mass deception and never expressed regret, is at it again.

Three years after the Iraq War, the American public realized they had been neo-conned into it. We in the Coalition for Peace Action organized to help elect an anti-war majority in the US House. Even then, it was five more long years, and up to a million casualties later, before the US stopped that war.

Saber rattling with threats of attack on Iran could trigger a catastrophic war far worse than Iraq. Iran is a much larger country, with a far more powerful military and the ability to inflict severe damage in the region and around the world.

Sustained diplomacy is the only thing that can succeed in preventing war and nuclear proliferation. Readers wanting to email their Congressperons to advocate for Diplomacy Not War can visit the Coalition for Peace Action web site www.peacecoalition.org or call (609) 924-5022 for further information.


The Rev. Robert Moore

The writer is Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action.

"Trump is barreling toward war with Iran. Congress must act to stop him," by Tom Udall and Richard Durbin, The Washington Post, March 5, 2019

"Before we embark on another irresponsible and costly war, we have the benefit of hindsight. We must heed the lessons of history, and Congress must exercise its constitutional authority to counter the president’s reckless march toward war with Iran. Congress alone has the authority to declare war — not the president. Congress must make clear to the president that the United States will not enter another conflict in the Middle East without its approval. It is up to Congress to end the growing threat of a national security calamity, return our country to diplomacy and rebuild international trust in U.S. foreign policy." (Click here to read full op-ed). 

Letter to the Editor on Successful Yemen Vote

This letter was published in the Trenton Times on April 6, 2019

Dear Editor,

On April 4, the US House of Representatives passed S.J. Res. 7, legislation to invoke the War Powers Act to end US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The legislation now goes to President Trump’s desk. He has threatened to veto it but should change his mind and sign it.

The Yemen War has been a catastrophe over the four years it has lasted, with no end in sight. Over 80,000 children have already starved to death, and some 12 million civilians—half of Yemen’s population—are now at risk of dying from starvation or preventable disease. The UN rates it at the worst humanitarian disaster in the world today.

The Coalition for Peace Action has worked intensively to advocate with Senators and Representatives in the NJ-PA region to end this war. We thank everyone who supported the effort.

If Trump does veto this bill, as he has threatened, Congress can try to override his veto. The War Powers Act originally became law by Congress over-riding President Nixon’s veto. The Congress can also bring up arms sales to Saudi Arabia for separate votes to stop them as well.

Readers wanting to be involved can visit peacecoalition.org or call (609) 924-5022.


The Rev. Robert Moore 

The writer is executive director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action.


"Picking Up the Pieces from Hanoi," by Leon Sigal, 38 North, March 5, 2019

"The Hanoi Summit failed because both US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un overreached, demanding too much and offering too little. Yet each side put enough on the negotiating table for the makings of a deal. The need now is to resume talks—the sooner the better, perhaps with South Korea’s help—with the aim of having both sides offer a little more for a little more." (Read full article here). 

Letter to the Editor on Second Korea Summit, Feb. 28, 2019

This letter has been submitted for publication to news outlets in the region. 

Dear Editor,

It is deeply distressing, but hardly surprising, that Donald Trump’s second Summit with North Korea’s leader abruptly ended in complete failure. Rather than being the master deal-maker he purports to be, Trump is a chaos president who repeatedly behaves in utterly incompetent ways, including international diplomacy.

Trump’s agreement to two Summits with no specific steps agreed on in advance was doomed to failure. Previous US presidents wisely avoided this. The first Summit might have been a reasonable risk to establish rapport. The second was inexcusable.

Last November, Ambassador Wendy Sherman was the keynote speaker for our annual Princeton peace conference. She presented an overview of the three-year successful diplomatic effort she led to achieve the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement, which has prevented Iran from having nuclear weapons to this day.

She explained that it included hundreds of technical and diplomatic experts toiling as a team in a steady “slog,” and very close coordination with the other six nations in the negotiations. Trump kept US regional allies mostly in the dark.

Readers wanting to see video of Amb. Sherman’s talk can visit peacecoalition.org, click on Recent Events, and scroll down to “39th Annual Multifaith Service and Conference for Peace.”


The Rev. Robert Moore

The writer is executive director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action.

Op-Ed by Ed Aguilar, CFPA's Pennsylvania Director: "Back to the Drawing Board on North Korea, Then Back to the Table for a Real Deal" 

This op-ed has been submitted to newspapers in the region for publication. 

The Trump Administration’s strategy on North Korea, on denuclearization, and bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula, is not working. But this issue is too important for the future of Northeast Asia and the world, to just give up, or worse, continue with a flawed strategy.

There’s several related problems. First, you are not going to just charm North Korean dictator, Chairman Kim Jong Un, into giving in to Mr. Trump’s demands. Second, Kim is also talking to South Korea’s President Moon Jae In, and China’s Xi Jing Ping, and the US is not being nimble in its approach, especially to our key ally, South Korea.

In fact, President Moon has made progress in bringing down the temperature from the “fire and fury days” of Trump and Kim. He has proposed significant economic cooperation, including demilitarizing the border, on both land and sea. And, he is looking to improve relations, by investing in North Korea and helping to bring North Korea’s economy into modern times. Finally, President Moon wants to bring an end to the Korean War. All these laudable goals are being blocked by the US strategy.

Mr. Trump seemingly wants an all-or-nothing deal, demanding denuclearization before a substantial reduction in sanctions, rather than step-by-step, reciprocally. So predictably, at this ill-prepared Summit, he walked away with nothing. It may trouble him to admit it, but these complex issues require time, and many working-level meetings on the pesky details. It’s said there were only two working meetings ahead of the Summit-- a recipe for failure.

So what could have worked? Experienced diplomats have suggested that North Korea will not provide real nuclear cuts, unless and until it gets some sanctions relief. For example-- the US could have kept sanctions on the North’s exports, while permitting imports of food, clothing and medicine for the North Korean people, and donations through UNICEF and others. Sadly, it is estimated that up to 60,000 North Korean children can die under current levels of sanctions. Bill Richardson, who has negotiated successfully with the North to get US hostages back, says a full reassessment of our policy is urgently needed.

In return, the North must show seriousness about cutting its nuclear programs-- e.g., give UN inspectors access to its nuclear plants, as it did in 2005 under George W. Bush. It could establish a schedule to begin actual denuclearization, with inspection and verification. We also need a better accounting and return of Korean War remains.

But the only way to get beyond these partial measures, is to open up the border to trade and investment, and move to end the Korean War, after 69 years of a war footing. It’s time for this war to end. If all this were accomplished-- then and only then, would a nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize possibly be in order. Anything less, will keep the dangers of a nuclearized Peninsula always on a low boil-- and at risk of suddenly boiling over.

Letter to the Editor on Venezuela Crisis, Home News Tribune, Feb. 7, 2019

This letter was also published in the Trenton Times on Feb. 8, 2019

The current crisis in Venezuela, with an anti-democratic, dictatorial leader bringing it to the point of collapse, is profoundly troubling.

But given the long history of US military interventions in virtually every nation of Latin America, it is outrageous that President Trump is threatening that yet again. Previous interventions, frequently executed secretly by the CIA, have usually made the situation worse, not better.

Most distressing is the damage to America’s reputation as a great democracy, the supposed leader of the “free world.” Since World War II, Freedom House has ranked the world’s nations in terms of how democratic they are.

Shamefully, the position of the US—which had until now ranked at or near the top—has fallen significantly in the 2018 ranking just released. The US now ranks behind Latvia and Greece.

Donald Trump has repeatedly violated democratic norms, most recently threatening to undermine the Constitution to fund his Wall without Congressional action. So, it’s not surprising that Trump threatens military action while refusing to collaborate on peaceful approaches.

It is urgent that Trump rescind the threat of military intervention. Those wanting to take action are urged to call their US Representative and Senators at (202) 224-3121.


The Rev. Robert Moore

The writer is executive director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action.

 "A Second North Korea Summit," by the New York Times Editorial Board, Jan. 22, 2019

"As the two leaders prepare for their second summit (reportedly next month in Vietnam), the pressure is on the Trump administration to articulate a realistic strategy for achieving a mutually agreed upon outcome.

No such strategy was evident last June when Mr. Trump broke with decades of foreign policy precedent by meeting directly with Mr. Kim in Singapore, in the first summit between American and North Korean leaders. Mr. Trump deserves credit for opening up this dialogue, but it has, so far, yielded few tangible results.

After that meeting, Mr. Trump declared that North Korea, which possesses 20 to 60 nuclear weapons, the missiles to deliver them and the facilities to make even more, was “no longer a nuclear threat.” Saying so didn’t make it so.

The one concrete product of the Singapore meeting, a concluding statement, was so poorly drafted that it laid the groundwork for months of stalemate. It committed the two leaders to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” without even defining “denuclearization,” let alone explicitly agreeing on the sequence of actions to be taken." (Read full opinion here).

"The New York Times’ Misleading Story on North Korean Missiles," by Leon V. Sigal, 38 North, November 13, 2018

North Korea is moving ahead with its ballistic missile program at 16 hidden bases that have been identified in new commercial satellite images…The satellite images suggest that the North has been engaged in a great deception: It has offered to dismantle a major launching site—a step it began, then halted—while continuing to make improvements at more than a dozen others that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads.

That is the ominous lede of a story by David Sanger and William Broad in The New York Times on Monday, November 12. Substituting tendentious hyperbole for sound reporting may convince editors to feature a story on page one, but it is a disservice to readers.

The United States and North Korea have yet to conclude an agreement that inhibits deployment of missiles by Pyongyang, never mind requiring their dismantlement. Nor has Washington yet offered the necessary reciprocal steps that might make such a deal possible. A negotiated suspension of missile deployment and production should follow a halt to fissile material production and take precedence in talks over a complete declaration of North Korea’s inventory of nuclear and missile assets.

In contrast, Adam Taylor’s story in Tuesday’s Washington Post posed the right question and reported the right answer:

Are these bases evidence that North Korea is cheating on the agreement it reached in June, when President Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore? Analysts say the answer is no—although there are plenty of caveats.


John Bolton is pushing for the US to withdraw from a cold war-era arms control treaty with Russia, in the face of resistance from others in the Trump administration and US allies, according to sources briefed on the initiative.

Bolton, Donald Trump’s third national security adviser, has issued a recommendation for withdrawal from the 1987 intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty (INF), which the US says Russia has been violating with the development of a new cruise missile.

Withdrawal from the treaty, which would mark a sharp break in US arms control policy, has yet to be agreed upon by the cabinet and faces opposition from within the state department and the Pentagon.  A meeting on Monday at the White House to discuss the withdrawal proposal was postponed. 

Bolton, who has spent his career opposing arms control treaties, is seeking to shrug off the traditional role of national security adviser as a policy broker between the agencies and become a driver of radical change from within the White House.

Former US officials say Bolton is blocking talks on extending the 2010 New Start treaty with Russia limiting deployed strategic nuclear warheads and their delivery systems. The treaty is due to expire in 2021 and Moscow has signaled its interest in an extension, but Bolton is opposing….

The US has briefed its European allies this week about the proposal, sounding out reactions. The briefing alarmed UK officials who see the INF as an important arms control pillar. The treaty marked the end of a dangerous nuclear standoff in 1980s Europe pitting US Pershing and cruise missiles against the Soviet Union’s SS-20 medium-range missiles.”

After cancelling Monday’s meeting, at a campaign rally in Elko, NV, the President said on Saturday:  “Russia has not honored the agreement, so we’re going to terminate… and pull out.”

Monday morning, the NY Times reported: “Trump’s Treaty Pullout Not Work of a ‘Great Mind’, Gorbachev Says.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/21/world/europe/mikhail-gorbachev-trump-russia.html

Seems that Bolton (and Trump) are doing an end-run around Congress and the Pentagon. “All agreements on nuclear arms must be preserved, to preserve life on Earth,” Gorbachev said.

The Times quotes Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), chair of Foreign Relations, who said he hoped this is “just to try to get Russia to come into compliance”, and Rand Paul (R-KY), who said correctly on Sunday:  “It would be a big, big mistake to flippantly get out of this historic agreement. This was a big part of Reagan’s legacy…. We went from 64,000 nuclear-tipped missiles down to 15,000.”  Putin’s spokesman called it “dangerous.”

If Congress and the American people allow Bolton to dismantle both INF and New START, we are back to Square One.  In the early 1980’s, the US was installing Pershing Intermediate-Range missiles in Europe, which gave decision-makers only 10 minutes to decide whether to launch counter-strikes and put an end to civilization as we know it.  The INF Treaty prevented an IRBM arms race that would have likely ended tragically.  It built hope for the future, and did lead to START, New START, etc. 

What will candidates in 2018 say about this?  What will governments and peace movements in Europe, the USA, and around the world, do before these men dismantle the work of 35 years of nuclear disarmament?   We may, in the words of the poet, be “slouching to Gomorrah, or worse. At home, we will bring people to the polls with us in vans and busses if necessary.  We are in the fight of a generation, before, during, and after this election. 

- Ed Aguilar, CFPA Pennsylvania Director

"How to make progress with North Korea now," by Robert J. Goldston, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September 21, 2018


In early 2017, the Trump administration could have taken up a Chinese- and Russian-backed proposal to suspend United States-South Korean joint military exercises, in exchange for suspension of North Korean nuclear and missile tests. At the time, South Korea was signaling that it would support this proposal, made before North Korea had tested intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching most of the United States. It also preceded North Korea’s test of an advanced nuclear explosive some 10 times more powerful than the atomic bombs the United States used against Japan in World War II.

Instead of making that deal, the Trump administration opted for “fire and fury” rhetoric and a policy of “maximum pressure.”

The Singapore Summit in June, however, effectively put just such a suspension-for-suspension agreement in place. A little late, but much better than never.

Now, in the just-finished inter-Korean summit, North Korea has offered to shut down its nuclear facility in Yongbyon in exchange for reciprocal measures by the United States—measures that President Trump and Chairman Kim supposedly discussed in Singapore. So what should the United States do? First of all, Kim Jong-un is not suicidal enough to give the United States the GPS coordinates of all of his nuclear and missile facilities, so Washington should not keep demanding that Kim take such a risky step.

Kim has, however, offered to stop producing nuclear weapons material at the known facilities in Yongbyon. This would not halt North Korea’s production of highly enriched uranium for weapons; Western intelligence agencies have long suspected that North Korea has, in addition to its enrichment facilities at Yongbyon, at least one secret location at which weapon-grade uranium can be produced. Still, it would slow the uranium enrichment program significantly. It would also likely stop the North’s production of plutonium, since there are probably no North Korean reactors outside of the Yongbyon complex. By the same token, a Yongbyon shutdown would also likely begin the depletion of North Korea’s supply of tritium gas, a component of advanced nuclear explosives. Tritium is produced for weapons purposes in fission reactors, and decays at a rate of five percent per year. If Kim is asking only for a formal declaration of the end of the Korean War in exchange for shuttering Yongbyon, this is a bargain, and the United States should take it. If he wants associated security guarantees, why not? The United States is, hopefully, not suicidal enough to attack a nuclear-armed North Korea.

And once fissile material production at Yongbyon has been halted, the United States would then be positioned to negotiate a next step—say access to all of North Korea’s facilities capable of producing materials for nuclear weapons, allowing International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to verify that the North is producing nuclear materials only for peaceful purposes. From America’s point of view, this would be a fine trade for a peace treaty and major infrastructure investments, if these are what North Korea wants.

Reductions in North Korea’s stockpile of nuclear weapons material and nuclear warheads represent a third stage, and will both be harder to negotiate, and also harder to verify (but not impossible; see this recent piece in Science magazine by my Princeton colleagues Alex Glaser and Zia Mian). The United States needs to succeed in these negotiations and verifications, and so make North Korea, like South Africa, an example of denuclearization that improves a nation’s circumstances. A patient, mutual, step-by-step path—and a willingness by the United States to consider proposals coming from North Korea that are in North Korea’s interests as well as our own—is the only route to such an outcome.

"Exclusive: Trump Promised Kim Jong Un he'd sign an agreement to end the Korean War," by Alex Ward, VoxAugust 29, 2018

"President Donald Trump told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their Singapore summit in June that he’d sign a declaration to end the Korean War soon after their meeting, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations.

But since then, the Trump administration has repeatedly asked Pyongyang to dismantle most of its nuclear arsenal first, before signing such a document.

That decision is likely what has led to the current stalemate in negotiations between the two countries — and the increasingly hostile rhetoric from North Korea.

“It makes sense why the North Koreans are angry,” one source told me. “Having Trump promise a peace declaration and then moving the goalposts and making it conditional would be seen as the US reneging on its commitments.”" (Read full article here). 

""All Take, No Give" Won't Work with North Korea," by Leon V. Sigal, 38 North, August 29, 2018

"It’s called diplomatic give-and-take for a reason.

The United States cannot get some of what it wants without giving North Korea some of what it wants. Yet that is precisely what Washington has been trying to do—and predictably getting nowhere, as President Trump acknowledged by postponing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s latest mission to Pyongyang. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis tried to increase pressure on the North by announcing, “We have no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises.” While he clarified that no decision had yet been made, he also noted, “We are going to see how the negotiations go, and then we will calculate the future, how we go forward.”

Washington is insisting that Pyongyang fulfill its commitment at the Singapore Summit to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” without addressing its own commitments at that summit “to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations,” and “to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula.” Policymakers opposed to negotiations have disclosed intelligence that North Korea is continuing to produce fissile material and missiles, as if it is obliged to stop without any deal.

While the Trump administration demanded that the North move first, reportedly by providing a complete inventory of its nuclear material and production facilities, the North countered with the demand that Washington join South Korea in declaring an end to the Korean War. The declaration would commit to initiating a peace process that would include military confidence building measures to reduce the risk of deadly clashes in the contested waters of the West (Yellow) Sea and the Demilitarized Zone and culminate in a formal peace treaty." (Read full article here). 

"How to Break the Impasse on North Korea," by The New York Times Editorial Board, Aug. 20, 2018

"The administration’s demand that North Korea take major steps toward denuclearization before the United States does anything to reciprocate is a recipe for failure. What’s needed is a step-by-step process in which both sides take mutually reinforcing actions that begin to build confidence and a more stable security environment.

That may seem like a lot to ask, given the extreme distrust on both sides. But in recent weeks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has appeared more open to the step-by-step approach. For this diplomatic opening to have any future, though, the two sides must soon begin serious sustained working-level negotiations." (Read full editorial here). 

Letter to the Editor on Step-for-Step Approach to Diplomacy with North Korea

August 14, 2018 

This letter was published in the Trenton Times. 

Dear Editor,

Following the Singapore Summit between North Korean leader Kim and President Trump, the US and North Korea have engaged in a war of words, not productive negotiations.

Renewing diplomatic momentum can be achieved by returning to the step-for-step approach that led to major progress before the Summit. An excellent example was President Trump responding to Mr. Kim suspending North Korea’s warhead and missile testing by suspending US military exercises targeting North Korea.

South Korea’s President Moon and the North's Kim want a declaration that the Korean War is over, the first step to a permanent peace treaty. The US first wants a declaration of North Korean nuclear assets, including bombs, production and test sites, and missile programs.

Korean expert Joseph Yun notes that a solution could be reached with what he calls "declaration for declaration." North Korea could hand over its declaration of nuclear assets. At the same time, the parties in the Korean War can declare the war is over, and all sides will begin to discuss terms for permanent peace and security for the Korean Peninsula.

I urge readers to call their US Senators and Representative at 202-224-3121 to urge them to advocate for this effective approach.


The Rev. Robert Moore

The writer is Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action.

Congressional Briefing Conducted by CFPA + Princeton University Experts on Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea

On August 8, the Coalition for Peace Action did a one hour conference call briefing with senior staffers to Sen. Bob Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Sen. Bob Casey, the senior Senator from Pennsylvania. 

Here are the slides that were used from the briefing, and a one page summary by Ed Aguilar, CFPA's Pennsylvania Director:

Nuclear Diplomacy with DPRK

DPRK Nuclear Capabilities


Just say NO to the Space Force, by The Peace Report 

"Trump's Foreign Policy is Awful, but There's a Better Alternatives than the Establishment's Version," by Lawrence Wittner, Foreign Policiy in Focus, July 31, 2018

"Trump's “America First” approach has largely dispensed with American-led alliances of the past. Instead, it emphasizes making “deals” with powerful, often authoritarian regimes; threats of unleashing military power against smaller, weaker countries; and the abandonment of any pretenses about defending human rights.

To undergird this policy, Trump has sought and secured major increases in U.S. military spending, scrapped the Obama administration’s efforts at nuclear arms control and disarmament, and blocked refugees from entering the United States.

Appalled, the U.S. foreign policy establishment has fought back ― lambasting Trump for eroding America’s alliances, undermining U.S. world “leadership,” and colluding with the Russians. But that establishment’s own foreign policy — conducted with great vigor over the previous decades — was characterized by U.S.-dominated military alliances, soaring Pentagon budgets, and numerous wars.

Indeed, since World War II, the United States has been almost continuously at war, with particularly disastrous conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Central America, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Its regime change operations have numbered in the dozens, with some of the most notorious occurring in Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, and Cuba.

From the standpoint of progressive values, neither strategy inspires much enthusiasm." (Read full opinion here). 

"10 Takeaways From the Summit Meeting in Singapore," by Max Fisher, The New York Times, June 12, 2018

"Even the most informed observer might struggle to know what to make of the summit meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea. [...] And Mr. Trump’s habit of making misleading statements, along with his record of defying norms, can make it difficult to parse which of the summit’s outcomes matter and which don’t, which bring Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim closer to their respective goals and which move them further away.

Here, then, is a simple breakdown of 10 major takeaways from the meeting and why they matter.

What Happened and Didn’t

(1) Almost any talks between the United States and North Korea, while those talks are continuing, significantly reduce the risk of an accidental or unintended slide into war, which could kill millions. The simple act of talking changes North Korean and American behaviors and perceptions in ways that make conflict far less likely. That’s a big deal.

(2) The joint statement signed by Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim contains polite diplomatic platitudes but is otherwise largely empty. Among adversaries, this sort of statement is a common, low-pressure way to keep talks going. It doesn’t resolve any issues, but it keeps the countries engaged.

(3) Later, Mr. Trump made a concession with significance that is real but easy to overstate: The United States will suspend its joint military exercises with South Korea. Mr. Trump was setting a policy that analysts refer to as “freeze for freeze,” in which the United States freezes the exercises and North Korea freezes its weapons tests. It’s meant to reduce tensions and create space for more meaningful concessions. Though not all analysts support such a policy, it is a mainstream idea and hardly radical.

(4) There is one asterisk to the otherwise modest policy implications. South Korean officials expressed surprise at Mr. Trump’s promise to suspend joint military exercises, suggesting that Mr. Trump may have made the concession on South Korea’s behalf without its consent or advance knowledge. The South Korean leadership will probably swallow their pride and accept it, but Mr. Trump’s public breach of the alliance sends the message that South Koreans cannot always count on the United States. It also offers North Korea the tantalizing prospect of widening any divide between Washington and Seoul." (Click here to read the rest of the ten takeaways). 

"Trump-Kim summit may be worth the try," by Eugene Robinson, Washington Post, June 7, 2018

"I have been and remain strongly in favor of the summit. I believe there is reason to believe it will do no harm — and reason to hope it might do some good. 

Refusing to talk one-on-one with North Korea has been U.S. policy for my entire lifetime. What has this stance produced? Despite our studied silence, despite the multiparty talks that led to agreements that were not worth the paper they were printed on, despite round after round of sanctions, despite all our threats and inducements and promises, despite everything we have tried, North Korea has mastered the nuclear cycle, built an arsenal of nuclear weapons and tested ballistic missiles of surprising sophistication and range.

I would venture to say that not talking has been a failure. Talking might not work, either, but surely it is worth the attempt." (Read full opinion here). 

"When Democrats Act Like Trump," by Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, June 7, 2018

"Shock! Horror! President Trump is actually doing something right.

Sadly, Democrats in Congress are responding in a quite Trumpian way: They seem more concerned with undermining him than supporting a peace process with North Korea. They are on the same side as National Security Adviser John Bolton, quietly subverting attempts to pursue peace.

While international security is complicated, here’s a rule of thumb: When you find yourself on the same side as Bolton, go back and re-examine your position.

Sure, we all wish that Trump treated Justin Trudeau or Angela Merkel with the respect that he now shows Kim Jong-un. Yes, it seems that Trump has been played by Kim. Yet another way of putting it is that Trump is finally investing in the kind of diplomatic engagement that he used to denounce, and that we should all applaud.

Trump’s newfound pragmatism is infinitely preferable to the threat of nuclear war that used to hang over all of us, so it’s mystifying to see Democrats carping about any possible North Korea deal." (Read full opinion here). 

Letter to the Editor in response to cancellation of Trump-Kim summit

This letter by CFPA's Vice Chair was published by the Trenton Times, May 27, 2018. Click here to write your own letter! 

Dear Editor,

President Trump recently canceled his June 12 Summit with North Korea’s head of state, Kim Jong Un.

Previously, John Bolton and Vice President Pence had proposed the “Libya model,” outraging Mr. Kim and leading him to say he was reconsidering whether to participate.

Bolton and Pence said that unless North Korea first surrenders all its nuclear weapons and they are removed from the country, as in Libya, the US would not respond positively. But Libya’s leader later lost his country… and his life. So these provocative announcements constituted a diplomatic poison pill.

Just as invoking Libya is a total non-starter for productive diplomacy, Trump’s maximalist, all-or-nothing negotiating posture is a recipe for failure. Trump needs to bring in experienced diplomats to end such disastrous missteps and build on the positive momentum that was emerging in recent months.

This could lead to re-scheduling the Summit and give the best chance of peace. Otherwise, we will probably return to a path toward unimaginably horrifying war.

I urge readers to contact their US Senators and Representative via the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and urge them to speak out for sustained, determined diplomacy. For more information, please visit peacecoalition.org to support Diplomacy, Not War.

- Marc Tolo, Vice Chair of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action, the largest peace group in the region.

Letter to the Editor in response to possible North Korea withdrawal from summit

This letter was published in the Trenton Times on May 17, 2018

May 16, 2018

Dear Editor,

On May 15, North Korea’s first vice-minister of Foreign Affairs said his government was now reconsidering whether to go forward with the June 12 Trump-Kim Summit. Most striking was that John Bolton is condemned three times.

Bolton has said that unless North Korea rapidly gives up all its nuclear weapons and has them taken out of the country first, like Libya, the US will make no concessions. As we know, Libya’s leader later lost his country and his life.

This is a recipe for failure and a total non-starter for productive diplomacy. John Bolton has consistently advocated regime change and war as the way to “force” other countries to do our bidding. President Trump should fire him, if he has any hope of peacefully resolving the Korea nuclear issue.

Trump needs to bring in experienced diplomats to salvage the Summit and give it the best chance of success. His own lack of commitment to well-coordinated, effective diplomacy, while allowing loose cannons like Bolton to sound off, could well lead us to war.

Ambassador Richard Haass, who served Republican presidents, says the world now faces the most perilous period since World War II. Visit peacecoalition.org to support Diplomacy, Not War.

- The Rev. Robert Moore, Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action, the largest peace group in the region.

"White House Brushes Aside North Korea’s Threats to Cancel Summit With Trump," by Mark Landler, Choe Sang-Hun and Jane Perlez, New York Times, May 16, 2018

"The sudden change came after months in which Mr. Kim presented himself as a statesman, changing his image from tyrant to moderate on the world stage. By issuing the latest threat, the North reverted to his earlier hard-line stance on retaining nuclear weapons and to a North Korean playbook that includes sudden shifts in tactics when negotiating with other nations.

But American officials acknowledged that the North appeared to be seeking to exploit a gap in the administration’s messages about North Korea — between the hard-line views of the national security adviser, John R. Bolton, and the more conciliatory tone of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has met twice with Mr. Kim in Pyongyang to lay the groundwork for the summit.

In a recent television interview, Mr. Bolton said the precedent for the North Korea negotiations should be Libya, which agreed to box up its entire nuclear program and ship it out of the country. Mr. Bolton said North Korea should receive no benefits, including the lifting of sanctions, until it had surrendered its entire nuclear infrastructure.

Mr. Pompeo, by contrast, put the emphasis on the American investment that would flow into North Korea if it agreed to relinquish its nuclear arsenal. He, too, said that the North would have to agree to “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization,” the technical shorthand used by the administration to describe its bargaining position with Pyongyang.

The president has shifted between a hard-line and more conciliatory tone in his statements about the North, although in recent days he has expressed excitement about a potential breakthrough with Mr. Kim. He has not yet responded to the warning Wednesday issued by the North’s first vice foreign minister, Kim Kye-gwan, which took direct aim at Mr. Bolton.

...Some officials suggested that Mr. Trump needed to rein in Mr. Bolton, though they expressed few qualms about the White House’s broader strategy. Officials noted that the United States had not made any concessions to Mr. Kim, beyond agreeing to the meeting itself. Mr. Kim has agreed to stop nuclear and missile tests and to blow up an underground nuclear site in the presence of foreign journalists." (Click to read full article). 

"Exiting Iran nuclear accord was dangerous," by Jim Drumheller, Trenton Times, May 13, 2018

An excellent letter to the editor by new CFPA member! 

"Trump's Most Foolish Decision Yet," by Susan E. Rice for The New York Times, May 8, 2018

"President Trump’s reckless decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal will not force Iran back to the negotiating table, nor will it address serious concerns about Iran’s behavior in the Middle East. But it will leave Iran’s nuclear program unconstrained, and an inconstant America isolated from its allies and far less safe.

The Iran deal has worked as intended. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United States intelligence community, the United Nations Security Council and the president’s top advisers, Iran has fully complied with its obligations. As required, Iran relinquished 97 percent of its enriched uranium stockpile, dismantled two-thirds of its centrifuges and its entire plutonium facility, abided by the most intrusive international inspection and monitoring regime in history, and forswore ever producing a nuclear weapon.

This agreement was never about trust. It is about stringent verification — in perpetuity. The deal effectively cut off all potential pathways for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.

Now President Trump has ceded the moral high ground and freed Iran from all those constraints. Iran will be able to resume its nuclear activities without being blamed for violating the agreement." (Read full article here). 

"Trump Overreaches in Critique of Iran Deal," by Linda Qiu, The New York Times, May 8, 2018

Click here to read full fact-check of President Trump's claims about the Iran Nuclear Agreement. 


" 'Even if Iran fully complies, the regime can still be on the verge of a nuclear breakout in just a short period of time.'

This requires context. 'Breakout' refers to the time it would take Iran to produce enough fuel for one weapon, and the agreement increased that time to at least a year from an estimated two to three months.

Since the deal limits Iran’s enrichment capacity and stockpile to less than one bomb’s worth for 15 years, Iran would not be 'on the verge of a nuclear breakout' until 2030.

It’s also worth noting that the agreement prohibits Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons permanently. 'Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons,' the first paragraph of the deal reads."

"Trump’s Outrageous Iran Decision Will Trigger Nuclear Arms Races and Wars," by the Rev. Robert Moore

I am outraged at President Trump’s May 8 decision to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Agreement. This withdrawal totally undermines a major diplomatic success that would keep Iran at least a year away from a nuclear bomb until 2030. After that, they would be required to submit to the strongest safeguards by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, which would remain binding permanently.

President Trump’s decision is the epitome of making the perfect the enemy of the good. It will almost certainly provoke Iran’s rival, Saudi Arabia, to also rapidly produce nuclear weapons, triggering a nuclear arms race in the world’s most volatile region.

This anti-diplomacy decision comes just weeks before the probable Trump Summit with North Korea’s leader, and strongly undermines the chance of resolving the nuclear crisis in East Asia through diplomacy.

President Trump’s announcement is reminiscent of then President George W. Bush’s 2002 withdrawal from the ABM Treaty restricting ballistic missile defense. President Bush wanted to pursue robust development of such defenses against nuclear attack, in the vain hope it would protect America from nuclear threats.

We in the Coalition for Peace Action strongly opposed that decision and warned that it would not only waste hundreds of billions of dollars and be ineffective against cheap countermeasures (like aluminized balloon decoys), but would also almost prompt a new nuclear arms race.

That’s exactly what is happening, as Russia recently showcased five new nuclear weapon systems it is developing that can avoid ballistic missile defenses; China has also built up its nuclear arsenal to ensure it has enough nuclear weapons to get through ineffective defenses and threaten the US.

In addition, the ABM withdrawal decision undermined subsequent nuclear arms reduction agreements, with the only verifiable one being the New START Treaty in 2010. There have been no further negotiations or reductions since. In fact, Russia, China, and the US are undertaking build-ups using the euphemism of “nuclear weapons modernization” that will keep nuclear arms races going, gravely threatening the future of all life on earth.

Polls show that nearly 2/3 of Americans support keeping the Iran Nuclear Agreement. We should demand that Trump’s decision be reversed, so yet another nuclear crisis in the heart of the Middle East can be avoided. We must prevent unnecessary war, this one far worse than Afghanistan or Iraq, by supporting this hard-won and verifiable Agreement.

Readers wanting more information are encouraged to visit peacecoalition.org and click on the Diplomacy, Not War Campaign icon in the right.

The writer is Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action, the largest peace group in the region.

"Trump thinks his North Korea strategy will work on Iran. He's wrong on both," by Colin Kahl and Vipin Narang, The Washington Post, May 4, 2018

President Trump told French President Emmanuel Macron last month that he would probably leave the Iran deal. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

"What Trump seems to have internalized from North Korea is that threats and “maximum pressure” can force his opponents to negotiate away their nuclear programs on American terms. Yet U.S. pressure is probably not the primary driver of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s willingness to bargain, nor is there much reason to believe that Pyongyang is ready to completely dismantle its nuclear infrastructure. Trump’s faulty assumptions and unrealistic expectations could doom prospects for peacefully deescalating one nuclear standoff — and applying these misguided lessons to Iran could manufacture yet another." (Read full article by clicking here). 

"On Iran Deal, Trump should listen to The Donald," by Paul Mulshine, The Star Ledger, May 1, 2018

Frank von Hippel, an expert on nuclear nonproliferation at the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University, is a longtime CFPA member and has been an intregal part of our candidate briefings! 

"If the U.S. were to unilaterally pull out of the deal, as Trump has threatened to do by May 12, there could be an immediate effect on any potential deal with North Korea, von Hippel said. 

"Kim Jong-un might conclude that the U.S. can't be trusted to stick to a deal. Even worse, the hard-liners in Iran might conclude that it's time to kick the international inspectors out.

"If they got out of the treaty, we would lose the monitoring," von Hippel  said. "The hardliners might say that if the U.S. kills the JCPOA, then Iran should get out of the NPT as well."

To learn more about the importance of the Iran Nuclear deal, read the full article here.

"Iran After Sunset," by Rob Goldston, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, April, 25, 2018

Rob Goldston is an active expert and CFPA member that has worked diligently in support of the Iran Deal.  He has also been a key member in addressing this issue in our candidate briefings!

"President Trump has called for extending key provisions of the Iran Deal past their so-called “sunset clauses”—those elements of the deal that are time-limited, such as the number of centrifuges that can be operated, or the amount of low-enriched uranium that Iran can have at any given time. The President and other critics of the deal are worried about Iran’s behavior after these restrictions lapse. But the existing deal, together with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to which Iran is committed, provides a legal framework for keeping Iran in check indefinitely. Indeed, abrogating the deal would eliminate the opportunity it provides." (Read full article here

Senators Bob Casey and Cory Booker Support End to War in Yemen; Successful Lobby Visits to D.C.

Left to Right: Niki VanAller, Hyun Lee, Ed Aguilar, Representative Kim Jong-hoon, Congressman Dwight Evans (D-Phila.), and the rest of the Delegation from the progressive Minjung Party of South Korea

On Tuesday March 20th, CFPA Pennsylvania Director Ed Aguilar and CFPA Assistant Director Niki VanAller traveled to D.C. We were seeking support for S.Res. 54, the bill to withdraw U.S. military forces in the Middle East from hostilities in Yemen, which are illegal due to lack of Congressional authorization under the War Powers Act of 1973.

Senators Casey and Booker (Booker was a co-sponsor of the bill) came through. Senators Menendez and Toomey, unfortunately did not. By a vote of 55-44, the Senate failed to act to bring this issue to a final vote, instead, tabling the legislation. Here is a statement from national Peace Action:

Today’s Senate vote on S.J.Res. 54 to end unauthorized U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which 44 Senators from both parties supported in a vote, sends a clear message to Trump, the Pentagon, and Saudi Arabia that the unauthorized war in Yemen must end, as must unchecked presidential war powers.

Senators who voted against the legislation effectively “voted to sentence countless more Yemenis to death by bombs, disease and starvation.”

“It’s remarkable that even on the 15-year anniversary of the Iraq War, widely considered one of the greatest blunders in American foreign policy, the Senate just voted to continue another disastrous military intervention in the Middle East.”

 Meanwhile, we have also spoken to our legislators and their foreign policy staff. On the question of diplomacy with North Korea, rather than moving toward a disastrous war which could go nuclear, we met with our Philadelphia Congressman, Rep. Dwight Evans, and a delegation with South Korean National Assembly legislator, Kim Jong-Hoon, Co-chairman, as well as leaders of the progressive Minjung Party, which stands for strong action for negotiations and peace between the two Koreas, as well as talks between the US and North Korea, leading toward denuclearization of the entire Korean Peninsula and East Asia.

The two legislative leaders hit it off. We are hopeful of continuing contacts between US members of Congress, and Korean National Assembly leaders. Indeed, Rep. Kim has invited a delegation of US Congress members to South Korea, to continue talks to help their respective administrations to work together for peace and reconciliation, not war and destruction

"Trump and Bolton's Plan to Isolate Allies and Encourage Enemies," by Wendy R. Sherman, New York Times, March, 25, 2018

"John R. Bolton, President Trump’s new national security adviser, has never met a war he didn’t want.

Mr. Bolton defends the 2003 invasion of Iraq and he advocates attacking North Korea, too. He believes that the United States should have bombed Iran years ago, rather than negotiating an international agreement to prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Since going into force in 2016, that deal has blocked Tehran’s path to a nuclear weapon and prevented a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. By every account, Iran is complying with the agreement, has committed to never obtaining a nuclear weapon and has subjected itself to rigorous monitoring and verification.

And yet, Mr. Trump appears committed to killing it. Mr. Bolton’s appointment has only cemented the expectation that the nuclear deal’s life expectancy is short. May 12 is the next deadline by which the president has to extend sanction waivers and certify Iran’s compliance to preserve the accord. If he doesn’t, the fallout will be profound." (Read full article here)

"U.S. General Signals Support for Iran Nuclear Deal," by Idrees Ali, Reuters, March 13, 2018

"A top U.S. general on Tuesday signaled support for the Iran nuclear deal, saying the agreement, which President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from, has played an important role in addressing Iran’s nuclear program.

“The JCPOA addresses one of the principle threats that we deal with from Iran, so if the JCPOA goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program,” said U.S. Army General Joseph Votel. JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is the formal name of the accord reached with Iran in July 2015 in Vienna.

Trump has threatened to withdraw the United States from the accord between Tehran and six world powers unless Congress and European allies help “fix” it with a follow-up pact. Trump does not like the deal’s limited duration, among other things.

Votel is head of the U.S. military’s Central Command, which is responsible for the Middle East and Central Asia, including Iran. He was speaking to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the same day that Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after a series of public rifts over policy, including Iran." (Read full article here). 

 We Got Their Attention: Now, how can Korean disarmament and peace talks succeed?

CFPA welcomed the news on Thursday evening, March 8th, conveyed by the South Korean National Security Advisor at the White House, that President Donald Trump has agreed to talks on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. But things have begun moving very fast, and it has become clear that in fact there is no certainty on the scope of the talks. So, here's some points that can help guide us, in supporting nuclear disarmament in East Asia.

1. Some Republicans and Democrats have expressed misgivings - but we must all hope the talks succeed.

2. We need experienced diplomats/statesmen in the process. Since the State Department has depleted its top staff for East Asia, we need help from outside. The three most experienced Americans in East Asian diplomacy are Jimmy Carter, Bill Richardson, and Henry Kissinger. Richardson might be best, having helped rescue Americans held in North Korean prisons in the past-- and can perhaps get the North to show its good faith by releasing three Americans still held there. He can also get a Democratic buy-in to make talks succeed. Rex Tillerson knows next to nothing about East Asia-- his entire "diplomacy on oil" was with Russia and the Saudis. Nikki Haley at least has the advantage of having represented the US on these issues at the UN, but she is a diplomatic novice, so she might be paired with say Richardson, well-known from his time as US Ambassador to the UN.

3. We need scientists, who know about nuclear physics and nuclear reactors. There has been no indication of what scientists, if any, are on the Administration team for the talks.

4. We need short-term and long-term goals. The more that Mr. Trump is persuaded that it can all be resolved mano-a-mano in one meeting, the more he sets himself up for failure. This would only send us backwards, on a path to war again.

5. For the short term, experienced hands (such as former DoD Undersecretary Evelyn Farkas) recommend the first meeting with Trump and Kim -- one hopes also President Moon of South Korea -- be treated as a ribbon-cutting, and a get-acquainted meeting. Longer-term, meanwhile, the US-South Korean team needs to be united, and have clear goals of what we can realistically expect to happen, so Mr. Trump can announce at or before that meeting who's going to run the day-to-day, nuts-and-bolts team for the American side.

6. Long-term, North Korea has spent many years, and many resources, on getting nuclear weapons as a deterrent to US attack. The Kims have worried about an attack for 68 years, as their country was essentially leveled to the ground by the US in 1950-1953. We cannot expect them to easily give up this deterrent. They are demanding in return, full security guarantees. It will take many months, possibly several years, realistically, for the process to reach this level, and only by adding some incentives. It is certain that South Korea will provide wise counsel as well as some incentives of its own for the process-- but that's part of the longer-term strategy that must be worked out. south Korea also has interests of its own, such as family reunification and longer-term trade, to pursue.

7. The ultimate objectives should be the rule of law in the region, a guaranteed, verifiable non-nuclear Korean Peninsula, not just North but also South, and finally once this happens, a treaty of peace bringing an end to the Korean War, which ended in an armistice in 1953 at Panmunjon. (Scaling back troops and heavy guns along the border would also help to build confidence.) Meetings along the way could take place in Seoul or elsewhere, but it would be a fitting end to do it at Panmunjon, especially since it could be done in conjunction with an opening of the border, and allowing freedom of trade and travel between the two Koreas.

-Ed Aguilar, CFPA's Pennsylvania Director

Letter to the editor on Diplomatic Olympic Initiatives with North Korea, by the Rev. Robert Moore, 3/7/18

Published in The Princeton Packet on 3/9/18

Dear Editor,

As result of an Olympic diplomatic surge by South Korea, a remarkably positive diplomatic overture was reliably reported recently. North Korea offered to freeze its nuclear and missile testing, in conjunction with starting talks with the US that include a goal of denuclearization.

Even more amazing, North Korea offered to begin negotiations with the US without insisting that joint military exercises between South Korea and the US be suspended; is scheduling a Summit with South Korea’s leader; and is opening a hotline between the two leaders.

This unexpected diplomatic initiative is a golden opportunity that could provide a peaceful way to resolve the Korean crisis.

However, the US State Department has suffered major budget cuts, lost its most senior diplomats experienced in negotiation with North Korea, and has failed to present nominees for key positions, including US Ambassador to South Korea. The US Congress must demand that these deficiencies be urgently remedied so the US can engage in robust, sustained and effective diplomacy to make the most of this unexpected opening.

I urge readers to call their Senators and US Representative at (202) 224-3121 to urge rapidly strengthening US diplomatic capacity. Visit peacecoalition.org to learn more and/or get involved.

The Rev. Robert Moore is Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action, the largest peace group in the region.



"Bob Menendez: Trump must make the most of talks with 'deceitful' North Korea," by Joel Gehrke, March 6, 2018, The Washington Examiner

"'While I have few illusions about the regime in Pyongyang given their long track record of deceitful negotiations, I hope that President Trump will be strategic enough to utilize this current opening by fully engaging the United States in clear-eyed and tough-minded constructive diplomacy,' New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Tuesday." (Click here to read full article). 



"North Korea Signals Willingness to ‘Denuclearize,’ South Says" by Choe Sang-Hunh and Mark Landler, March 6, 2018, The New York Times

Image result for north korea denuclearization

"North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has told South Korean envoys that he is willing to negotiate with the United States on abandoning his country’s nuclear weapons, officials from the South said on Tuesday. Mr. Kim also said he would suspend all nuclear and missile tests while such talks were underway.

President Trump reacted with guarded optimism to the news, which potentially represented a major defusing of one of the world’s tensest confrontations.

During the envoys’ two-day visit to Pyongyang, the North’s capital, which ended on Tuesday, the two Koreas also agreed to hold a summit meeting between Mr. Kim and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea on the countries’ border in late April, Mr. Moon’s office said in a statement.

“The North Korean side clearly stated its willingness to denuclearize,” the statement said. “It made it clear that it would have no reason to keep nuclear weapons if the military threat to the North was eliminated and its security guaranteed.”

If the statement is corroborated by North Korea, it would be the first time Mr. Kim has indicated that his government is willing to discuss giving up nuclear weapons in return for security guarantees from the United States. Until now, North Korea has said its nuclear weapons were not for bargaining away." (Read full article here)



"Trump's team is floating an attack on North Korea. Americans would die." in The Washington Post, by David C. Kang, Feb. 28, 2018

"What are the next steps if North Korea attacks a U.S. base in Japan or South Korea? What if 500 American civilians and military personnel are killed in a North Korean retaliatory strike? The pressure for an even greater military reaction will be overwhelming, which will then lead North Korea to conclude that all along the United States was preparing for a major war, and it will respond accordingly by escalating — and so on.

What’s at stake? The lives of 300,000 Americans — roughly the population of Pittsburgh." (Read full opinion here). 



"Can South Korea’s Leader Turn an Olympic Truce Into a Lasting Peace?" by Choe Sang-Hun and Motoko Rich, in the New York Times, Feb. 25, 2018

(Photo Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times)

"Over the weekend, Mr. Trump announced harsh new sanctions against North Korea and warned of tougher measures if the North fails to relinquish its nuclear arsenal.

The hard line out of Washington has stood in conspicuous contrast with the more conciliatory gestures from Seoul…to avoid a possible military conflict, Mr. Moon seized upon the Pyeongchang Games to craft what some analysts called an “Olympic truce”.
“It dramatically lowered the pitch of tension on the Korean Peninsula, replacing tests, threats and tweets with face-to-face talks, and it restored Seoul as a key player in the game,” said John Delury, a North Korea expert at Yonsei University in Seoul.

Some Trump administration officials said the United States had to accept that there was now a viable diplomatic channel between North and South Korea, and figure out how to use it for American goals. The first step, according to these officials, is for the administration to settle on a more consistent message toward North Korea.

The United States has veered in recent weeks from expressing openness to diplomacy to reiterating threats of military action if the North does not curb its nuclear and missile programs. The net effect, according to analysts, has been to confuse both North and South Korea…." (Read full article here). 

South Korea has embarked on the beginning of what could become peace on the
Korean Peninsula, during the successful Olympic Truce. So far, the US has not played
ball. Experts say this could be a large miscalculation, losing South Korea’s friendship,
driving it toward China, and leading to a stalemate or worse, war with the North. This
would be the opposite of what cooler heads in Washington would like. As usual, the
Administration is divided and sending conflicting signals. They’ve spoken of talks,
then undermined them with preconditions. This is not a strategy for bringing a
successful solution. The US needs to take advantage of Moon’s successful opening of
dialogue, to ease tensions, de-escalate, and set a course for peace by freezing
destabilizing military exercises, and opening a full dialogue with both Koreas.

We need to tell Congress and the Trump Administration:
• Talks now, without preconditions.
• Let the Korea-Korea dialogue continue.
• Do not resume large-scale military exercises off the coasts of Korea, as long as
North Korea also agrees to not resuming nuclear/missile testing.
• Seek avenues for de-escalation, not escalation
• Pledge not to conduct a first strike on North Korea

If we do these things, we have a chance to move toward denuclearization of the
entire Korean Peninsula, and eventually allow for peace and reconciliation, an end to
the “cease-fire state of war” that has prevailed for two generations, and a final Peace
Treaty ending 68 years of hostilities. Not only can this be done, it can serve to
prevent the outbreak, by accident or pre-meditation, of a global nuclear war.

Sacred Heart Gathering for Peace and Justice, 2/10/18, 
where CFPA's Executive Director, the Rev. Bob Moore, spoke on Diplomacy, Not War, with Korea. (Click to watch video of his talk: Part 1, Part 2).

"Pence: The United States is ready to talk with North Korea," by Josh Rogin, in The Washington Post, Feb. 11, 2018

"Vice President Pence, in an interview aboard Air Force Two on the way home from the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, told me that in his two substantive conversations with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during his trip, the United States and South Korea agreed on terms for further engagement with North Korea — first by the South Koreans and potentially with the United States soon thereafter.

The frame for the still-nascent diplomatic path forward is this: The United States and its allies will not stop imposing steep and escalating costs on the Kim Jong Un regime until it takes clear steps toward denuclearization. But the Trump administration is now willing to sit down and talk with the regime while that pressure campaign is ongoing.

Pence called it “maximum pressure and engagement at the same time.” That’s an important change from the previous U.S. position, which was to build maximum pressure until Pyongyang made real concessions and only then to engage directly with the regime.

“The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization,” Pence said. “So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify. But if you want to talk, we’ll talk.”" (Read full article here). 

OPINION: "Diplomatic surge building on the Olympic truce needed to resolve the North Korea nuclear crisis," by the Rev. Robert Moore, in The Princeton Packet, Feb. 9, 2018

"President Trump’s bellicose, reckless threats against North Korea and belittling their head of state in 2017 led to a dramatic escalation of cascading tensions and counter-threats. In response, North Korea threatened to do an atmospheric H-Bomb test and to shoot down American aircraft like those recently flown near their border. The North Koreans actually shot down a U.S. aircraft in 1969, so this should not be taken as an idle threat.

Through miscalculation and foreclosing options to de-escalate, such a war of words could well escalate into actual war, even nuclear war. Widely respected experts - as detailed in a November 2017 column by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times - have estimated the danger of war, even nuclear war, as high as 60 percent. Many have added that we are closer to nuclear war than any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Thankfully, the two Koreas began 2018 with reciprocal steps of diplomacy, which have so far resulted in several face-to-face negotiating sessions, re-opening a hotline for urgent communications, and North Korea sending athletes, musicians, and cheerleaders to the Olympic games starting on Feb. 9. We need to build on this promising Olympic Diplomacy and expand it into broader negotiations to resolve the Korean nuclear issue." (Read full op-ed here).

"Here’s what war with North Korea would look like," in Vox, Feb 8, 2018, by Yochi Dreazen

"I covered the Iraq War from Baghdad. I saw the aftermath of a conflict built atop sunny scenarios and rosy thinking. I’ve seen the cost of wars that the American people were not prepared for and did not fully understand. The rhetoric around North Korea is raising those same alarm bells for me. For all the talk of nuclear exchanges and giant buttons, there has been little realistic discussion of what a war on the Korean Peninsula might mean, how it could escalate, what commitments would be required, and what sacrifices would be demanded.

So I’ve spent the past month posing those questions to more than a dozen former Pentagon officials, CIA analysts, US military officers, and think tank experts, as well as to a retired South Korean general who spent his entire professional life preparing to fight the North. They’ve all said variants of the same thing: There is a genuine risk of a war on the Korean Peninsula that would involve the use of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Several estimated that millions — plural — would die.

Even more frightening, most of the people I spoke to said they believed Kim would use nuclear weapons against South Korea in the initial stages of the fighting — not just as a desperate last resort." (Read full article here). 

"Lindsey Graham: There's a 30 Percent Chance Trump Attacks North Korea," in the Atlantic, by Uri Friedman

"It’s become a grim ritual in Washington foreign-policy circles to assess the chances that the United States and North Korea stumble into war. But on Wednesday Lindsey Graham did something different: He estimated the odds that the Trump administration deliberately strikes North Korea first, to stop it from acquiring the capability to target the U.S. mainland with a long-range, nuclear-tipped missile. And the senator’s numbers were remarkably high.

“I would say there’s a three in 10 chance we use the military option,” Graham predicted in an interview. If the North Koreans conduct an additional test of a nuclear bomb—their seventh—“I would say 70 percent.”" (Click here to read full article).

"'The Military Has Seen the Writing on the Wall,'" in the Atlantic, by Uri Friedman

"When Senator Tammy Duckworth returned from a recent trip to South Korea and Japan, she brought back a sobering message: “Americans simply are not in touch with just how close we are to war on the Korean peninsula.” In a speech at Georgetown University, she laid out the U.S. military maneuvers over the past several months—including a nuclear-powered submarine heading to South Korea, the movement of three aircraft carriers to the Western Pacific, and the Army testing out “mobilization centers” for deploying troops and training soldiers to fight in tunnels like those beneath North Korea—that inform this worry. In an interview with me, she said the U.S. military seems to be operating with the attitude that a conflict “‘will probably happen, and we better be ready to go.’”

The Illinois Democrat believes this is primarily a response to the rhetoric coming out of Washington, where members of the Trump administration have repeatedly threatened to use force if diplomacy fails to prevent North Korea from acquiring the capability to strike the United States with nuclear missiles. And even though the administration continues to emphasize its preference for a diplomatic solution, “I feel like the military hears the war-mongering tendencies coming out of the executive branch and many in the legislative branch and have seen the writing on the wall and they said, ‘Holy cow. We’re more likely to be called on now than we were two years ago,’” Duckworth said." (Click here to read full article).

"White House Wants Pentagon to Offer More Options on North Korea," in the New York Times, by Mark Landler and Helene Cooper, Feb. 1, 2018

"As they examine the most effective way of giving credibility to Mr. Trump’s threat of “fire and fury,” officials are considering the feasibility of a preventive strike that could include disabling a missile on the launchpad or destroying North Korea’s entire nuclear infrastructure. American officials are also said to be considering covert means of disabling the nuclear and missile programs.

While General McMaster also favors a diplomatic solution to the impasse, officials said, he emphasizes to colleagues that past efforts to negotiate with North Korea have forced the United States to make unacceptable concessions.

The Pentagon has a different view. Mr. Mattis and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., argue forcefully for using diplomacy. They have repeatedly warned, in meetings and on video conference calls, that there are few, if any, military options that would not provoke retaliation from North Korea, according to officials at the Defense Department." (Read full article here.)

"Playing With Fire and Fury on North Korea" from the New York Times Editorial Board, Feb. 1, 2018

"There are no easy or good options with North Korea. Enforcing economic sanctions and blocking deadly technology from entering or leaving North Korea are necessary parts of any reasonable strategy. But so is diplomacy, including negotiations.

Mr. Trump’s preoccupation with military action and refusal to seriously pursue a diplomatic overture to North Korea are foolhardy, especially when South Korea is using North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics to defuse tensions and open up space for dialogue." (Read full editorial here.)

"Trump's Boring, Utterly Terrifying Warmongering" in Jan 30, 2018 New York Times, by Michelle Goldberg

"America survived the first year of the Trump administration more or less intact. Tuesday indicated that our luck could be running out. If the country goes to war in North Korea, future historians will struggle to understand how we sleepwalked into Armageddon behind a man whose own cabinet considers him contemptible." (Read full article here). 

"Korea Expert Cha No Longer Considered for US Envoy to Seoul" in Jan 31, 2018 New York Times

"In a commentary published late Tuesday in The Washington Post, Cha voiced opposition to conducting a preventive military strike against North Korea over its nuclear weapons. He said that has been suggested by some Trump administration officials and would put thousands of Americans at risk." (Read full article here).

Letter to the Editor on Doomsday Clock & Olympic Diplomacy

January 25, 2018

Dear Editor,

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists today moved its iconic Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight, the closest it’s been to nuclear war since 1953 at the height of the Cold War. The Bulletin’s announcement cited “hyperbolic rhetoric” that has dramatically increased the danger of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation. Experts estimate the danger of nuclear war as high as 60%.

South Korea recently joined in Olympic Diplomacy with the North that builds on a tradition of Olympic Truces dating back nearly 3,000 years. Already a key hotline for crisis communication has been re-opened, and North Korea will send athletes and an orchestra to the Winter Olympics scheduled to start on February 9.

This is a promising opening that could deescalate tensions and jumpstart diplomatic negotiations. The Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) strongly advocates Diplomacy, Not War with Korea.

Diplomacy has worked before, with a 1994 agreement which, over the next 8 years, prevented at least 100 North Korean nuclear weapons. More recently, diplomacy with Iran produced an agreement that peacefully resolved the nuclear crisis there.

CFPA calls on all peace-loving citizens to call Congress at (202) 224-3121. More information and options to email your elected representatives are at peacecoalition.org.

The Rev. Robert Moore

The Rev. Robert Moore is Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action, the largest peace group in the region.

Rep. Khanna Calls on Trump Administration to Prioritize Military-to-Military Communication with North Korea

Jan 18, 2018 – "Today, amid growing concerns and escalating tensions with Pyongyang, Rep. Ro Khanna, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, led more than 30 bipartisan members in sending an urgent letter to the Trump Administration, calling for re-establishment of military-to-military communication. The letter reads, “the United States (U.S.) should do all in its power to avoid misunderstandings that could lead to nuclear war.” The letter expresses strong support for recent developments that have led to North Korea’s decisions to agree to talks with South Korea and to reopen a military hotline with South Korea.

These actions provide hope for a peaceful resolution to the escalation in tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, the letter says. The United States has military-to-military channels with every other nuclear weapons state in the world, including Russia, China, and Pakistan, and maintained these lines with the Soviet Union until its collapse. The letter also urges the Trump Administration to “avoid actions that could contribute to a breakdown in talks, and continue to search for confidence-building measures that are conducive to dialogue.”

“We must take these necessary steps to minimize the risk of war and miscalculation. It’s imperative to our nation’s national security to push for diplomatic efforts with North Korea and ensure President Trump cannot attack North Korea without prior approval of Congress. I thank my colleagues for their partnership on this cause and will continue to be a strong and vocal advocate for a diplomatic solution to the threat of nuclear war,” said Rep. Khanna." (Read full press release from Rep. Khanna here).

Letter to the Editor on South Korea Diplomatic Initiative

January 5, 2018

Dear Editor,

South Korea’s President demonstrates wisdom in seeking to defuse tensions with the North. As host to next month’s Winter Olympics, President Moon Jae-in has encouraged talks leading to North Korean participation in the games. This builds on a tradition of Olympic Truces dating back nearly 3,000 years.
The willingness of both governments to talk opens the way for bilateral discussions that could deescalate tensions and jumpstart regional diplomatic negotiations.

Rather than sabotage such positive efforts with childish insults and bellicose threats (which could lead to catastrophic miscalculation and to war, even nuclear war, with North Korea), the US should strongly encourage such diplomacy.

Diplomacy has worked before, with a 1994 agreement which, over the next 8 years, prevented at least 100 North Korean nuclear weapons. More recently, diplomacy with Iran produced an agreement that peacefully resolved the nuclear crisis there.

Psalm 34 teaches us to “seek peace and pursue it.” South Korea is leading the way, and we need to urge Congress to support their initiatives, including the now agreed delay in joint military exercises, to reduce the very real danger of war.

Readers are encouraged to call Congress at (202) 224-3121 and learn more about “Diplomacy, Not War” at peacecoalition.org.

The Rev. Robert Moore

The Rev. Robert Moore is Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action, the largest peace group in the region.

Stopping Armageddon, Jeffrey D. Sachs, The Boston Globe, December 14, 2017

American arrogance and President Donald Trump’s delusional worldview have brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Before it is too late, American citizens must make overwhelmingly clear that we do not want millions of Americans or others to perish in a reckless attempt by the Trump administration to overthrow the North Korean regime or denuclearize it by force.

We would rather accept a nuclear-armed North Korea that is deterred by America’s overwhelming threat of force than risk a US-led war of choice, one that would almost surely involve nuclear weapons. Yet National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster has explicitly said that Trump rejects “accept and deter.” The danger from Trump could not be greater.

“Accept and deter” is not appeasement. It is the moral and practical requirement of survival. Appeasement would be the case if North Korea were demanding the surrender of the United States or South Korea, but that’s not the case. North Korea argues that it needs nuclear arms to protect the regime from the threat of a US attack. According to North Korea, it seeks a “military equilibrium,” not a surrender of the United States or South Korea.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has just called for direct talks with North Korea without precondition. This is a glimmer of hope. Given Tillerson’s fragile hold on office and Trump’s continued reckless rhetoric vis-a-vis North Korea, we need to rally in favor of diplomacy.

Sad to say, North Korea’s fears of a US-led overthrow are realistic at this moment in history. Creating the conditions for North Korea’s eventual denuclearization would require trust-building over many years of patient diplomacy and interaction, including US diplomatic recognition of North Korea. (Read Complete Article).

Retired military leaders urge Trump to choose words, not action, to deal with North Korea, Anna Fifield, The Washington Post, December 13, 2017

TOKYO — A group of 58 retired American military leaders is making a rare public plea to President Trump, urging him not to take military action against North Korea and instead to pursue a diplomatic resolution to the current standoff.

As North Korea has demonstrated its increasing technical abilities, including the capacity to send a missile anywhere in the United States, Trump and some of his top aides have suggested that a military strike on North Korea might be the solution.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to “win victory in the showdown” with the United States, state media reported Wednesday.

Dozens of retired military leaders from across the services are writing to Trump to urge him not to start a conflict with North Korea, and instead to choose diplomacy.

“The current approach taken by the United States is failing to stop North Korea from developing its nuclear and missile technology,” states the letter, which will be sent to the White House on Wednesday. “The United States must initiate and lead an aggressive, urgent diplomatic effort to freeze North Korean nuclear and missile development and reduce regional tensions.” (Read Complete Article).

Trump's Scare Tactics on North Korea Scare Us, Editorials, The New York Times, December 8, 2017

North Korea’s launch last week of a type of missile that may soon be able to deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States mainland set off the Trump administration on a troubling new trajectory.

In the space of a week:

■ Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, warned that tensions with North Korea made it an “open question” whether American athletes would be able to compete in the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February. (The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, later said that while there had been no official decision on participating, “the goal is to do so.”)

■ Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, said the risk of war with North Korea was “increasing every day, which means that we are in a race, really, we are in a race to be able to solve this problem.”

■ Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican leader on national security, warned that “we’re getting close to a military conflict” and that the Pentagon should stop sending the families of the 28,000 American troops in South Korea to live with them at military bases there.

The bellicose comments come against the backdrop of air force drills the United States and South Korea began on Monday with plans to simulate strikes on North Korean nuclear and missile testing sites. Although part of an annual exercise, the maneuvers involved an unusually fearsome array of American warplanes, including B1-B Lancer bombers and the largest deployment of stealth aircraft to South Korea, F-35 Lightning II fighters and F-22 Raptors. (Read Complete Article).

This Is How Nuclear War with North Korea Would Unfold, Jeffrey Lewis, The Washington Post, December 8, 2017

No one wants to fight a nuclear war. Not in North Korea, not in South Korea and not in the United States. And yet leaders in all three countries know that such a war may yet come — if not by choice then by mistake. The world survived tense moments on the Korean Peninsula in 1969 , 1994 and 2010. Each time, the parties walked to the edge of danger, peered into the abyss, then stepped back. But what if one of them stumbled, slipped over the edge and, grasping for life, dragged the others down into the darkness?
This is how that might happen, based on public statements, intelligence reports and blast-zone maps.

MARCH 2019: For years, North Korea had staged provocations — and South Korea had lived with them. The two had come close to war before: In 2010, a North Korean torpedo detonated just below a South Korean navy corvette, cutting the ship in two and sending 46 sailors to their deaths. Later that year, when North Korean artillery barraged a South Korean island and killed four more people, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak reportedly ordered aircraft to deliver a counter-strike deep inside North Korea, but the U.S. military held him back.

This time was different. No one thought President Moon Jae-in, a South Korean progressive known for his attempts to engage the North, would want blood. But nobody grasped how quickly accidental violence could take on its own urgent logic. (Read Complete Article).

Click here to read Constitutional War Powers, and the First Use of Nuclear Weapons, by Ed Aguilar, J.D

Let the Record Show: Negotiations with North Korea Work, Catherine Killough, Lobe Log, November 29, 2017

President Trump has consistently misrepresented the negotiation record between North Korea and the United States. In his speech before the South Korean National Assembly, he derived one conclusion from a complex history of hard-earned diplomatic achievements: “The North Korean regime has pursued its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in defiance of every assurance, agreement and commitment it has made to the United States and its allies.”

It is neither new nor uncommon to berate North Korea for its imperfect negotiating record, but it has never been more dangerous. In a series of tweets last month, Trump not only discredited past diplomatic efforts for “making fools of U.S. negotiators,” but also concluded with alarming ambiguity, “Sorry, only one thing will work!”

If not diplomacy, then that “one thing” sounds like a military strike, a serious proposal that has been reverberating throughout Washington’s foreign policy establishment. As Evan Osnos noted in his article for the New Yorker, “Is the Political Class Drifting Toward War with North Korea?” the idea of a preventive war has become so pervasive that even a former Democratic Cabinet secretary confided, “if he were in the government today he would support attacking North Korea, in order to prevent it from launching a strike on America.” (Read Complete Article).


"We're skidding closer each day toward nuclear war—and it's proving difficult to find a reasonable person to steer the world from chaos. That's according to Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC show Morning Joe, who said Wednesday that nuclear tensions are higher now than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The former GOP congressman was reacting to an NBC News report that President Donald Trump told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson he wanted to increase the nation's nuclear arsenal tenfold, which inspired the now-infamous "moron insult" from the secretary.

Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski described the president's behavior as "erratic, unpredictable and some would say extremely concerning."" (Read full article here).

For immediate release: November 20, 2017


by the Rev. Robert Moore

North Korea has certainly engaged in very troubling behavior regarding both world peace and human rights over many years. But the critical and urgent need right now is how to deescalate and peacefully resolve the nuclear crisis involving them.

Piling on sanctions and name-calling, which have yet to deter or slow North Korea’s progress on its nuclear weapons program, is not the answer. In fact, George W. Bush labeling North Korea part of the “axis of evil” in 2002 was a key part of the undoing of the 1994 Agreement which had verifiably kept them from developing nuclear weapons for eight years.

We need intense, unconditional negotiations that seek to freeze and roll back North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. This designation makes getting to the negotiating table, let alone securing an agreement, much more difficult.

We must engage in Diplomacy, Not War with North Korea. But it will take average citizens to persistently advocate for that to turn it into reality. To learn more, visit peacecoalition.org.

The Rev. Robert Moore is Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action, the largest peace group in the region.

Fact Sheet on North Korea Nuclear Crisis and Diplomatic Options

How Trump Should Talk to North Korea, Suzanne DiMaggio and Joel Wit, The New York Times, November 8, 2017

For the last several months, the United States and North Korea have been stuck in a mutually reinforcing cycle of escalation. The possibility of the confrontation spiraling into a horrific, full-scale war — either by design or by accident — has become increasingly likely.

President Trump has portrayed North Korea as uninterested in finding a peaceful way out of this standoff. On Tuesday, during a visit to South Korea, the president took a different tone, declining to reaffirm his previous statements that negotiations are “a waste of time.”

The approach he showed in Korea was certainly better than his past bluster, but it still falls far short of what is needed.

Over the last year, the two of us have been part of informal discussions with North Korean officials also attended by former American government officials, retired military officers and experts. While determined to pursue a nuclear arsenal to defend their country, the North Koreans say they are also open to discussing how to avoid a disastrous confrontation. (Read Complete Article).

Slouching Toward War with North Korea, Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, November 4, 2017


John Brennan, the former head of the C.I.A., estimates the chance of a war with North Korea at 20 to 25 percent.

Joel S. Wit, a Korea expert at Johns Hopkins University, puts it at 40 percent.

Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, says the odds may be somewhere around 50/50.

Yet we’re complacent: Neither the public nor the financial markets appreciate how high the risk is of a war, and how devastating one could be.

The Congressional Research Service last month estimated that as many as 300,000 people could die in the first few days of war — and that’s if it remains nonnuclear. If there is a nuclear exchange, “there easily could be a million deaths on the first day,” says Scott Sagan, an international security expert at Stanford. (Read Complete Article).

Trump’s North Korea Strategy Requires an Intervention from Congress, Paul Kawika Martin, The Hill, November 1, 2017

Days before President Trump’s first presidential trip to Asia, where the crisis with North Korea will be high on the agenda in meetings with leaders in Japan, South Korea, and China, members of Congress are reasserting their constitutional role as gatekeepers of American military action, a critical step in ensuring the U.S. doesn’t stumble into yet another catastrophic war of choice.

Last Thursday, Reps. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) introduced the No Unconstitutional Strike Against North Korea Act of 2017 with 60 original co-sponsors, and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) introduced corresponding legislation in the Senate. This bipartisan bill aims to reaffirm that the president cannot order a preemptive military strike against North Korea without prior congressional approval, and to prevent funds from being used for such a strike. It also calls on the president to pursue direct talks with North Korea to de-escalate tensions and negotiate the freezing and eventual rolling back of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Similar legislation was also introduced on Tuesday by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and five other senators. Congress should treat these bills like the life and death matter that they could well be. (Read Complete Article).

Democrats Push Bill to Stop a Trump Pre-Emptive Strike on North Korea, Julian Borger, The Guardian, October 26, 2017

ICM for DNW page

Congressional Democrats have introduced legislation aimed at preventing Donald Trump from launching a pre-emptive attack on North Korea, as concerns grew about the administration’s failure to explore talks with Pyongyang.

The “No Unconstitutional Strike against North Korea” bill is the second legislative attempt to curtail’s Trump power to start a war unilaterally. Earlier this year, a bill was introduced to prohibit the president from ordering a nuclear first strike against a foreign adversary without a declaration of war by Congress, amid concerns over Trump’s belligerent language, erratic behaviour and frequent tweeted threats against other countries.

The new legislation prohibiting an attack on North Korea without congressional authority was launched by Democrats John Conyers in the House and Ed Markey in the Senate. It has two Republicans among the 61 backers in the House, but at present no formal Republican backing in the Senate. (Read Complete Article).

"North Korea: Solution or Disaster," International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms

October 10, 2017

1) The assassination of two persons in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 triggered World War I, which resulted in the death of an estimated 10 million military personnel and 10 million civilians and many more wounded. Likewise, the current steadily escalating confrontation between the United States and North Korea could explode into war from a small incident. We must not let this happen.

2) Both sides in the current conflict between the United States and North Korea have threatened each other with events which rise to the level of genocide, the greatest crime in international law.

3) They have ignored the obligation of the UN Charter to resolve disputes peaceably, without resorting to force.

4) The United States in particular has declared an end to diplomacy, while maintaining a condition which negates the possibility of beginning diplomacy: the denuclearization of North Korea.

Click here to read complete statement.

Letter to the Editor Regarding Senator Corker's Warning that Trump Has Us on a Path to WWIII

This letter appeared in the Princeton Packet on October 13, 2017

October 10, 2017

Dear Editor,

Republican Senator Bob Corker, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has warned that Donald Trump’s reckless threats have us on a path to World War III. This is a very real danger, as our President’s behavior could cause war, even nuclear war, by miscalculation.

Escalating threats and war games, like the US continues to conduct, could easily trigger a nuclear holocaust. We need to demand Diplomacy, Not War. Diplomacy has worked with the North Koreans before: a top nuclear expert calculates that a 1994 agreement verifiably prevented up to 1,000 additional nuclear warheads being added to their arsenal.

In addition, we must urgently press our elected representatives to co-sponsor the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act in Congress, which would prevent the US President from using nuclear weapons without a declaration of war specifically authorizing that.

That critical restraint on the current profoundly anti-democratic command and control in which the President can use nukes without any checks is urgently needed to prevent nuclear holocaust. Readers wanting to support such urgent measures are encouraged to visit peacecoalition.org or call (609) 924-5022.

A slogan from previous successful efforts to reduce nuclear weapons remains relevant: Better active today than radioactive tomorrow.

The writer is Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action.

Trump is Going to Make a Huge Mistake on the Iran Deal, Wendy Sherman, The New York Times, October 9, 2017

President Trump is expected this week to refuse to recertify that Iran is complying with the 2015 nuclear deal, a milestone diplomatic agreement that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Mr. Trump seems poised to take that action despite the reality that Iran is not violating the terms of the deal. In fact, his key national security cabinet officers have publicly said that Iran is meeting its commitments. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is charged with monitoring and verifying the deal, has issued eight reports over the past two years echoing these conclusions.

Instead, the president seems prepared to argue that the deal is no longer in the United States’ vital national security interest because of Iran’s other activities in the Middle East, including its support for terrorism, its meddling in Syria and Yemen, and its threats to Israel’s security. (Read Complete Article).

Click here for RadioLab, "Nukes: The Broadcast"

In this broadcast version of our Nukes episode, we tell the story of Tsutomu Yamaguchi who, in early August of 1945, had a run of the worst luck imaginable. A double blast of radiation left his future, and the future of his descendants, in doubt. Then, we sit on the other side of the table and look at the protocol behind the country the dropped the bombs.

The world can’t afford a nuclear Iran. Keep the current deal, Ernest J. Moniz, Boston Globe, October 4, 2017

When the Iran nuclear agreement was concluded more than two years ago, many questioned whether Tehran would live up to its terms. Incredibly, now it’s our continued compliance that’s in question. If the president pulls the United States out — either by failing to certify Iranian compliance without clear evidence of violations or by making a clean withdrawal — he will trigger a crisis that will significantly increase nuclear dangers.

A nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to the region and the world and must never be allowed to happen. The 2015 nuclear agreement is foundational for preventing this outcome, not an enabler as President Trump and others have suggested. If the United States walks away from our obligations, Iran could walk away without notice. To understand the stakes, it’s important to be clear about what this agreement accomplished and what we would lose if the United States causes the deal to collapse. (Read Complete Article).

North Korea Called Me a ‘War Maniac.’ I Ignored Them, and Trump Should Too. Smart diplomacy backed by the threat of force, not Twitter bluster, is the way to deal with Kim Jong Un. William J. Perry, Politico, October 3, 2017

The last time events on the Korean Peninsula were in a state of crisis as urgent as what we are experiencing now was in 1994, when President Bill Clinton drew a line by saying the United States would not allow North Korea to develop the enriched plutonium needed to make nuclear bombs—and was prepared to use military force to ensure this did not happen.

The regime in Pyongyang responded by threatening to turn the South Korean capital into a “sea of flames” and calling the U.S. defense secretary a “war maniac.”

The war maniac was me.

Perhaps the biggest mistake President Donald Trump is making today is conducting a war of words with Kim Jong Un. No one can outbluster North Korean leaders. They are truly the masters of invective. (Read Complete Article).

Letter to the Editor Responding to Trump's Tillerson Rebuke

October 2, 2017

Dear Editor,

Donald Trump’s rebuke of Secretary of State Tillerson’s overtures to explore diplomacy with North Korea show that he is a “war president” who refuses to consider peaceful ways of dealing with international conflict.

Trump acts and talks like a cowboy in Showdown at the OK Corral. While I was also impressed by that approach as a young boy, as an adult I realized it only leads to violence. Instead of deescalating the North Korea nuclear crisis and taking urgent steps to peacefully resolve it, Trump threatened to “totally destroy North Korea.”

Trump’s rebuke is yet another reckless worsening in the tensions between North Korea and the United States that edges us closer to nuclear war. There is no military solution to this problem. North Korea’s nuclear weapons are hidden deep underground and mobile, unable to be destroyed in a preemptive strike.

Trump keeps provoking a major crisis that puts the world on the verge of a catastrophic nuclear war. Tens of millions of lives are in imminent danger, including American citizens who are in that region.

Diplomacy has worked with the North Koreans before: material for 100 nuclear weapons was stopped by the 1994 agreement. China is now cooperating with sanctions more than ever before. The Congress and the American people need to demand that we engage in Diplomacy, Not War with North Korea. Wringing our hands won’t change things, we need to pro-actively demand it.

The Rev. Robert Moore

Statement Responding to Trump's U.N. Speech, by the Rev. Robert Moore, Executive Director of the Coalition for Peace Action

Donald Trump’s first speech to the United Nations General Assembly – and in particular, his remarks about North Korea – was nothing short of a catastrophic failure of American leadership. Instead of deescalating the crisis and taking urgent steps to peacefully resolve it, Trump threatened to “totally destroy North Korea.”

We need to stop this escalating roll toward a nuclear war, and quickly deescalate the North Korean crisis diplomatically. Trump’s U.N. speech represents yet another reckless escalation in the ongoing tit-for-tat between North Korea and the United States that edges us closer to nuclear war.

There is no military solution to this problem. War on the Korean peninsula would kill many millions of Koreans, Japanese, and American troops stationed in the region, wreak havoc on the world economy, inflict a humanitarian crisis not seen since World War II, and potentially provoke the North Koreans to use their nuclear arsenal.

Unfortunately, we continue to see more of the same bluster and counterproductive threats coming from Donald Trump. Less than a year into office, Trump has managed to take what was a difficult, challenging situation, and turn it into a major crisis that puts the world on the verge of a catastrophic nuclear war. Threats and bombastic tweets are not leadership, they won’t keep America safe, and they need to stop.

The choice is clear: either we let Trump’s incompetence and bellicosity drive us into a destructive conflict far more devastating than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, or we can focus our efforts on tough diplomacy.

Diplomacy has worked with the North Koreans before, and it can work again. We will not be deterred in our efforts to prevent another disastrous U.S.-led war. The fate of the region and the world depends on it.

Speak Out Against Threats and for Diplomacy with North Korea!

Thank you to National Peace Action for the following action alert.

North Korea tested another missile recently, this time provocatively launching it over Japan. This escalated response comes after President Trump’s threatening of “fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” in early August.[1]

It is time for the back and forth threats between two nuclear armed nations to come to a halt. Ronald Reagan once warned “I can’t believe that this world can go on… with this kind of weapon on both sides, poised at each other, without someday some fool or some maniac or some accident triggering the kind of war that is the end of the line for all of us.”[2]

If his comment were made today, it would be unclear just who “some fool or some maniac” would be in our current situation.

That is why it’s time for Congress to step up and demand an end to the dangerous nuclear saber-rattling and a beginning of diplomacy with North Korea. Please, write to your members of Congress today to demand that they do just that.

The only viable solution to this conflict is a diplomatic settlement, one that begins without the unrealistic precondition that North Korea completely denuclearize before talks even begin. Obviously we want to work toward that goal in the long-term, but demanding North Korea starts there guarantees negotiations are derailed before they even start.

Congress is coming back into session from their August recess next week. They need to hear loudly from their constituents in opposition to another preemptive war, and for starting up diplomatic talks without preconditions that are the only means to end the dangerous tit for tat threats of war.

Please write to you members of Congress to urge them to speak out against war and dangerous posturing toward North Korea and in favor of diplomacy without preconditions.

We have some momentum behind us already. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has called for “high-level dialogue without any preconditions.”[3] Over in the House, 64 representatives signed a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking him to encourage the administration to focus on the diplomatic path instead of more dangerous posturing. 

That’s momentum we need to keep up and build upon. You can help do your part today by writing to your members of Congress to ask them to do everything they can to promote a diplomatic solution with North Korea.

Thank you for adding your voice against another preemptive war at this critical time.

1. Peter Baker and Choe Sang-Hun, Trump Threatens ‘Fire and Fury’ against North Korea if it Endangers the U.S., NY Times, 8/8/2017

2. William Lambers and Brenna Gautam, North Korea Crisis: Dialogue and Diplomacy Over Fire and Fury, Huffington Post, 8/10/2017

3. Press Statement by Dianne Feinstein, Feinstein Statement on North Korea, [available online] https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?id=19DEB70E-1D79-4518-999F-65B7885D1F90, 8/9/20

Arms Control Experts Urge Trump to Honor Iran Nuclear Deal, Rick Gladstone, The New York Times, September 13, 2017


Alarmed that President Trump may soon take steps that could unravel the international nuclear agreement with Iran, more than 80 disarmament experts urged him on Wednesday to reconsider and said the accord was working.

In a joint statement, the experts said the 2015 agreement, negotiated by the Obama administration and the governments of Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, was a “net plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts.”

Because of the monitoring powers contained in the agreement, they said, Iran’s capability to produce nuclear weapons has been sharply reduced. They also said the agreement made it “very likely that any possible future effort by Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, even a clandestine program, would be detected promptly.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly assailed the agreement — a signature achievement of his predecessor — describing it as “a terrible deal” and a giveaway to Iran. (Read Complete Article).

Trump’s Distorted Korea History Harms US Diplomacy, Jon Rainwater, Huffington Post, September 7, 2017

The Trump administration’s recent mixed messages could well be causing a global outbreak of whiplash. On one day the Secretary of State takes to the airwaves and calls for bringing “Pyongyang to the negotiating table to begin a dialogue,” on another day the Secretary of Defense threatens a “massive military response” that could include the “total annihilation” of North Korea, on the very next day the U.N. ambassador accuses North Korea of “begging for war.”

Mixing a war of words with intermittent calls for diplomacy makes it harder to jump-start serious negotiations. Unfortunately, the administration appears united is in its one-sided view of the history of the conflict, which is equally harmful to diplomatic progress. (Read Complete Article).

The Way to Make North Korea Back Down, Sung-Yoon Lee, New York Times, September 6, 2017

After Sunday’s nuclear test, the most powerful yet, and two successful intercontinental missile tests in July, North Korea can credibly threaten to nuke a major United States city and kill millions of Americans. To date, the Trump administration, frustrated by its misplaced hopes of Chinese cooperation to restrain Pyongyang, has been reduced to empty bluster, while others, including a senior official in the previous administration, are resigned to living with a nuclear-armed regime on the Korean Peninsula.

But a nuclear North Korea is unlike a nuclear China or Russia. During the Cold War, neither Beijing nor Moscow faced an existential threat in the form of an alternate Chinese or Russian state. Pyongyang, on the other hand, has had to live with a far more prosperous and legitimate Korean state across its southern border. (Read Complete Article).

An Incoherent Strategy on North Korea, Editorial Board, New York Tmes, September 6, 2017


The North Korean nuclear threat is worsening by the day. Tougher economic sanctions have not accomplished much, if anything. Nor has President Trump’s bellicosity. Sunday’s nuclear test was the North’s most powerful blast in the 11 years it has been detonating nuclear weapons. There are signs of another test soon.

Mr. Trump’s approach has so far consisted of sanctions, pressure on China — North Korea’s chief ally — and taunts against the government in Pyongyang. These messages have not only produced zero positive results but they have also sowed confusion about his intentions. The president and his team seem unable or unwilling to put together a realistic and coherent strategy that goes beyond pressure tactics and harsh rhetoric to include a serious effort to engage the North Koreans. (Read Complete Article).

Diplomacy With North Korea Has Worked Before, and Can Work Again, Tim Shorrock, The Nation, September 5, 2017

August 2017 was a reminder of the scariest, and riskiest, days of the Cold War. All month long, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un engaged in a bitter war of words that escalated into tit-for-tat displays of military might and ended with mutual threats of mass destruction. The tensions peaked on September 3 with Pyongyang’s stunning announcement that it had conducted its sixth, and largest, nuclear test—this time of a powerful hydrogen bomb—and had the capability to place the bomb onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. With the crisis spinning out of control, the opportunity for the diplomacy and negotiations promised by Trump’s foreign-policy team in recent months seemed to fade with each passing day.

Ironically, the spiral of events began with a hopeful sign on August 15, when Kim uncharacteristically backed down from a highly publicized plan to launch ballistic missiles toward the United States garrison island of Guam. His surprise decision drew approving comments from Trump as well as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has been at the forefront of US proposals for diplomacy. He offered that Kim’s “restraint” might be enough to meet the US conditions for talks—a halt to nuclear and missile tests—that he recently laid out in a Wall Street Journal op-ed co-authored with Defense Secretary James Mattis. (Read Complete Article).

Wilkerson: Trump and Kim Jung Un Sound the Same, Interview, The Real News Network, August 10, 2017

AARON MATE: One day after President Trump issued his threat, we had these follow-up comments today from Secretary Mattis threatening North Korea with the destruction of its people, not just of its regime but its people. What do you make of all that's going on?

LARRY WILKERSON: I hate to admit that Lindsey Graham is from the state I am, South Carolina. I've known Lindsey for some time, but that was absolutely disgusting, reprehensible statement that you just played that he made. It's okay because the war won't be here on U.S. territory. It'll be on the Korean Peninsula. What a reprehensible statement. We military professionals estimate that in the first month of that war there will be as many as 100,000 casualties, perhaps double that. There are 230,000 Americans living in Korea, most of them, I'd say probably 85% to 90%, in the greater metropolitan area of Seoul. As a matter of fact, about 50% of the South Korean population of some 48 million live in the metropolitan area of Seoul, which would be impacted gravely by North Korean actions were we to have war on the peninsula. This is disgusting. Lindsey Graham is disgusting. Donald Trump is disgusting. They're all disgusting.

I hope that all of this is braggadocio, bravado, brinkmanship, and so forth, much the way Kim Jong-un does himself, only this is the leader of the free world as it were. He's talking to a dictator of a basket state, so it shouldn't be that way, but what we have is Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump and here Lindsey Graham acting like they're the same people. That's disgusting. (Click here to read the full interview).

House panel votes to force new debate on terror war, Bryan Bender, Politico, June 29, 2017

The move to rescind the post-9/11 military authorization was a rare victory for Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, a long-time war critic.

Congress may finally be getting fed up with war on autopilot.

A powerful House committee voted unexpectedly Thursday to require Congress to debate and approve U.S. military action in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other far-flung countries — in a surprise victory for a longtime Democratic critic of the nearly two-decade-old war on terrorism.

The amendment from Rep. Barbara Lee of California — one of countless she has offered in recent years — is only a modest first step in getting Congress to update the authorization of military force that lawmakers adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But Thursday's voice vote in the GOP-controlled Appropriations Committee is a symbolic move forward. (Read Complete Article).

U.S. Airstrikes Are Initiating Dangerous, New Phase of Syria War, Press Release by National Peace Action's John Rainwater, May 18, 2017

Washington, D.C. — May 18, 2017 — Today, U.S. aircraft launched airstrikes against pro-Assad forces, a step that amounts to a significant increase in U.S. military involvement in Syria. The strike took place near Syria’s southern border with Jordan and Iraq against a convoy made up of pro-Assad Syrian and Iranian fighters. The Pentagon justified the strike by saying that the convoy’s forces “were posing a threat” to Pentagon-backed forces in the area. The strikes destroyed a number of vehicles but casualties are unclear.

While this strike represents the Trump administration’s second attack on Syrian government forces, the first strike was framed as an isolated strike to enforce chemical weapons norms given Syria’s purported chemical weapons use. With the second strike, the United States is embarking on attacks against Syrian government forces with only a short-sighted battlefield rationale. As Muzahem al Saloum, from the Pentagon-backed Maghawir al Thwra group told Reuters, “We notified the coalition that we were being attacked by the Syrian army and Iranians in this point, and the coalition came and destroyed the advancing convoy.”

Jon Rainwater, Executive Director of Peace Action, made this statement:

“With these strikes the U.S. has crossed a dangerous threshold. We now appear to be entering sustained military conflict with the Assad government and its allies. With Russian and Iranian fighters in the area, this is a reckless escalation that could spiral out of control.

“When the president ordered the first strike in April against Syrian forces, it was portrayed as a one-off strike to punish Syria for reported chemical weapons use. This strike makes clear the U.S. is getting dragged into active combat in Syria’s civil war. Donald Trump once tweeted ‘We should stay the hell out of Syria, the ‘rebels’ are just as bad as the current regime.’ Clearly President Trump has done a dramatic and perilous 180 that threatens lives and endangers stability throughout the region.

“Without a formal authorization from Congress this remains an illegal war. Congress should debate this new escalation and put an end to this war that makes us all less safe.”

Princeton Scholar: Interim Nuclear Deal Will Help Cool Hot Heads, Rob Goldston, Star Ledger, April 27, 2017


The following article was written by Princeton professor Rob Goldston, who was honored at the Coalition for Peace Action's 2016 Membership Dinner for his leadership in Diplomacy Not War with Iran. This article was also published in the Trenton Times under the title "Seek an Interim Nuclear Deal with North Korea."

As the full Senate is called into the White House for a highly unusual classified briefing on North Korea, it is time to find a way to get to an interim agreement with North Korea, like the 2013 Joint Plan of Action with Iran, that will let us begin negotiations towards a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

In 1983 the U.S., together with our NATO allies, undertook a military exercise called Able Archer. The purpose was to practice pushing back a Red Army attack on Western Europe. However the Soviets did not perceive it that way. Ronald Reagan had declared the Soviet Union an "Evil Empire" and he was building up our strategic bomber force at an unprecedented rate.

The Soviets feared that the Able Archer troop movements were giving the U.S. a head start on invasion of Eastern Europe, so they placed Warsaw Pact nuclear forces on raised combat alert. Fortunately, Leonard Perroots, the U.S. commander of Able Archer violated procedure and did not respond in kind. At that moment the USSR was deciding whether to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the U.S. (Read Complete Article).

The Power of a Strong State Department, Stephen Walt, New York Times, May 12, 2017

President Trump clearly admires America’s military. He has put generals in charge of the Pentagon, the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security, and he has called for a big increase in military spending. He was quick to order missile strikes after chemical weapons were used in Syria, and he plans to send more troops to Afghanistan.

At the same time, Mr. Trump appears to have little regard for traditional diplomacy. He made Rex Tillerson, a foreign policy neophyte, his secretary of state. He has left key diplomatic posts unfilled and proposed slashing the State Department’s budget by some 30 percent. Mr. Tillerson, who also wants to shake up the department, has already suggested eliminating 2,300 jobs there. Morale has plummeted, so Mr. Tillerson gave an in-house speech on May 3 that sought to convince his employees that their work was still important. But a pep talk is unlikely to restore the State Department’s sense of diminished status. (Read Complete Article).

Peaceful Resolution of the U.S.- North Korean Confrontation: Lawful and Wise
Statement of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
April 25, 2017

Unilateral military action against North Korea is not among the "options" which the United States should consider. Such a unilateral attack would violate the United Nations Charter, especially while the UN Security Council is addressing the matter. In an April 20 press statement, members of the Council "expressed their commitment to a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution." The statement was issued by U.S. Amb. Nikki Haley as this month's president of the Council

Further, there is no imminent armed attack by North Korea (DPRK-Democratic People's Republic of Korea) which could justify U.S. military action as a matter of self-defense under the Charter. The leaders of the DPRK are neither insane nor suicidal, and they know what the consequences would be if they began a war with the United States or South Korea.

Unilateral military action at this time would be not only unlawful but extremely unwise. It could easily escalate to full-scale conventional or nuclear war. In that scenario, North Korea would be defeated at great cost to its people, but in the process it could do enormous damage to South Korea, U.S. bases and forces, and perhaps Japan as well. Such an attack would also carry the risk of wider war, if China were faced with a collapse of the DPRK regime on its borders. Such a collapse could also result in North Korean nuclear weapons falling into the hands of black marketeers and subsequently terrorists.

Diplomacy should be pursued vigorously, and realistically. The current U.S. position of refusing to negotiate unless North Korea agrees in advance to denuclearization - i.e., unless the other side agrees in advance to give up its main bargaining chip - is untenable. The DPRK leaders are motivated by a fear of U.S.-led forcible regime change, and threats and belligerent rhetoric can only make the situation worse. Instead, the North Korean regime should be offered the possibility of survival without nuclear weapons. The international agreement with Iran could offer a useful model. Recent suggestions by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, for example a freeze on North Korean nuclear and missile programs in exchange for a suspension of U.S./South Korean military exercises, should also be explored.

The current situation does present grave dangers. That is all the more reason for calm analysis and thoughtful action.

Are We Headed for a Fully Militarized Foreign Policy? What Are the Alternatives for Policy on North Korea?

“The cruise-missile attack launched by US destroyers against an airbase in western Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces has been widely described in the media as the first major use of military force by Donald Trump since assuming the presidency. The attack, involving 59 Tomahawk missiles, was certainly a significant use of force, causing extensive (if not calamitous) damage to the Syrian base. But it really should be viewed as the second such action by Trump, following an ill-fated raid by US Special Forces in Yemen on January 29. Even more importantly, it should be seen as the prelude to further exercises of military might—each likely to prove more risky and ferocious than the one before.” Michael Klare, The Nation, April 11, 2017

Michael Klare is really onto something. The current Administration has already sought to gut the budgets, not just for the EPA, PBS, and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, but also for the State Department and the Agency for International Development, not to mention to cut the U.S. contribution to the U.N.

But these are symptoms, not the full substance of the changes he’s making. The key change is to put generals in charge of national security policy, and integrate the intelligence community into the military establishment. The notion of civilian control of the Pentagon seems not to be in play here.

What will this mean for policy with North Korea, and other hot spots? What would be a better plan, short of force, using our full economic and diplomatic power to prevent a nuclear exchange?

There are precedents. In 1985, North Korea signed the NPT – the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 1986, they launched a “peaceful nuclear reactor” at Yongbyon, under the NPT.

In 1994, there was a testy confrontation with the new Bill Clinton presidency—but Clinton recovered, and sent President Jimmy Carter to negotiate. That led to an agreement for North Korea to suspend construction of new graphite reactors, in exchange for economic aid, food, and aid in building light-water reactors, less prone to be weaponized. This agreement, with ups and downs, still lasted a decade, until President George W. Bush pulled out of six-party talks.

North Korea has been developing nuclear weapons ever since. However, it is still a very poor country, albeit one with both nuclear and long-range missile technology.

Rather than the bluster we’re now seeing on both sides, we should have a diplomatic surge, except this time with China and others centrally involved, to defuse a very dangerous situation. One proposal is for North Korea to freeze its program in place, especially on missiles; and for six-party talks to resume, with China in the lead, to assure North Korea we will not overthrow the regime, if it follows international norms and stops threatening its neighbors and Korean kin to the South.

At home we need to tell the White House that talk of pre-emptive war is what got us into Iraq, and is not a winning strategy. Such a course puts the US and the world at greater, not lesser risk. We need to use all the arrows in our quiver – especially diplomatic and economic measures, rather than rely first and foremost on the military, in what can only lead to greater instability and world insecurity.

Ed Aguilar, Pennsylvania Director
Coalition for Peace Action

by the Rev. Robert Moore

High level US officials have repeatedly been raising the specter of preemptive military strikes against North Korea, leading reputable observers to describe it as a “Cuban missile crisis in slow motion.” The mere threat of such an attack has already ratcheted up tensions and increases the probability of miscalculation and a catastrophic war, possibly even involving nuclear weapons.

President Trump repeatedly and falsely said he opposed a preemptive war against Iraq before it started in 2003, seemingly to portray himself as an anti-war, anti-interventionist candidate. He also said he would meet with North Korea’s leader to talk through a solution. Now, with horrifying recklessness and hypocrisy, he is threatening a preemptive war over nuclear weapons issues with North Korea.

Given that North Korea also has a reckless and unpredictable leader, this is a recipe for disaster. Any attack on North Korea would certainly lead to catastrophic war, including artillery fire at South Korea, bombarding US military installations, and sending troops from its fourth largest military in the world across the border. Given that some of North Korea’s estimated 15 nuclear warheads are likely to survive such a strike, the worst case scenario is utterly terrifying.

It is time for a diplomatic surge led by cool heads. Previous disputes over North Korea’s nuclear program have been addressed, with at least some success, by diplomacy. In 2015, Iran’s path toward a nuclear weapon was stopped by intense, committed diplomacy. This makes more sense, and avoids the catastrophic dangers noted above, as a response to North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

Readers who want to learn more or get involved in such alternatives are encouraged to visit peacecoalition.org and click the Diplomacy Not War icon on the right, or call the Coalition for Peace Action at (609) 924-5022.

The Rev. Robert Moore has been Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action since 1981.

This is What's Really Behind North Korea's Nuclear Provocations, The Nation, March 23, 2017

War is Not an Option for Korea, Christine Ahn, Foreign Policy in Focus, March 18, 2017

by the Rev. Robert Moore

In response to the recent horrifying use of chemical weapons in Syria, President Trump ordered an attack on the Syrian air base suspected as the site from which the attack was launched. Nearly 60 cruise missiles were used at a cost of $1 million each. But was this the most effective way for responding, and for using that $60 million?

I believe peaceful alternatives are available, and if employed in a consistent strategic plan—something that appears to be completely lacking in President Trump’s exclusively military response—could be more effective. I don’t have the expertise or depth of knowledge to lay them out in detail, but outline them below.

First, international inspectors could be sent to the site of the attack to reliably determine the perpetrator of this despicable and illegal use of chemical weapons. Mechanisms exist for such inspections under the Chemical Weapons Ban Treaty, to which Syria is a party.

Russia and Iran have questioned whether the perpetrator was in fact the Assad government, suggesting it may have instead been a rebel group. While evidence to date makes it seem likely that it was Assad, a stronger foundation for united international action could be laid if the facts are reliably established.

Second, once the perpetrator is established—whether it is Assad, the rebels, or both—war crimes charges could be prosecuted through the International Criminal Court. This would put the perpetrator on the defensive in the eyes of the world community, and give time for international public opinion to be mobilized. While such a process is much slower than Trump’s military response, it would be much more effective over the long haul.

Third, economic and diplomatic sanctions could be imposed on the perpetrator(s). The US and its partners, who successfully negotiated the peaceful agreement resolving the Iran nuclear issue, showed a new level of sophistication in the sanctions relief that was the key carrot offered to Iran. Nuclear related economic sanctions were lifted when the agreement was implemented, but not those related to Iran’s support of terrorist groups.

Sanctions also don’t work quickly, but over a period of years were an important factor in the diplomatic success of the Iran Nuclear Agreement, which has now been verifiably implemented for over a year. They also were an important element in ending apartheid in South Africa.

Fourth, the US should engage in a surge of accepting Syrian refugees. This would greatly improve America’s reputation as a humanitarian champion that truly cares about the millions of Syrians—now over half the population—that has fled the seemingly endless war in their homeland. It would also be a much better use of the funds spent on military alternatives, which even US military leaders say don’t lead to a lasting solution.

Readers who want to learn more or get involved in such alternatives are encouraged to visit peacecoalition.org and click the Diplomacy Not War icon on the right, or call the Coalition for Peace Action at (609) 924-5022.

The Rev. Robert Moore has been Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action since 1981.

War as a Political Weapon, Charles Blow, New York Times, April 10, 2017

Publicity Stunts Aren't Policy, Paul Krugman, New York Times, April 10, 2017

The Long Road to Trump's War, Samuel Moyn and Stephen Wertheim, New York Times, April 10

Letter to the Editor on Syria Military Strike:

April 7, 2017

Dear Editor,

On April 6 the U.S. launched 59 cruise missiles at a military target in Syria. This is a significant departure from previous U.S. policy towards Syria, which targeted terrorist groups. This policy shift has little legal ground and has the potential to take us down a rabbit hole into an another endless Middle East War.

According to the War Powers Resolution, the President needs to consult Congress before taking military action. And in 2013, Donald Trump tweeted that the president would need Congressional approval to bomb Syria.

Under international law, launching a military strike on a sovereign nation is illegal and amounts to war (UN Charter). Despite the civil war, the Syrian government retains sovereignty. Humanitarian interventions have created legal gray areas, however it is doubtful that President Trump is intentionally considering that level of commitment.

If President Trump truly wants to pursue new and innovative policy approaches to Syria he needs to use his leverage with Russia to check the Assad regime. Additionally, he should utilize the Republican majority and get Congressional backing to pursue multilateral diplomatic solutions.

Readers wanting to support Diplomacy Not War can visit www.peacecoalition.org or call the Coalition for Peace Action at 609-924-5022.


Erica DeKranes
Assistant Director, Coalition for Peace Action

#DiplomacyWorks: Iran Deal Under President Trump, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

Iran Deal Factsheet, produced by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

Click here to read more on the implementation of the Iran Nuclear Agreement (factsheet produced by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation)

Ignoring Diplomacy's Past and It's Future Promises, Editorial Board, New York Times, March 29, 2017


One of America’s greatest contributions to international peace resulted from a historic investment in foreign aid. After defeating Fascism in World War II, Washington channeled billions of dollars into the war-torn nations of Europe and Japan, helping transform them into economic success stories and vital democratic allies.

That’s a lesson worth remembering as President Trump tries to slash the State Department and its foreign aid programs by about 30 percent in the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, while raising Pentagon spending by 10 percent. The cruelest cuts may be a reported $1 billion reduction for the United Nations’ peacekeeping operations and programs that care for needy children. (Read Complete Article).

Letter to the Editor by CFPA Executive Director Rev. Bob Moore, March 20, 2018

Dear Editor,

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently threatened preemptive war against North Korea over its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Their continued development of nuclear warheads, and missiles that can deliver them over increasing distances, is deeply worrying.

But to recklessly threaten preemptive war would take a very bad situation and make it terrifyingly worse. While previous diplomacy and sanctions have not yet succeeded, there is no other way toward a resolution except intensified, persistent diplomacy.

In the years leading up to the Iran Nuclear Agreement, there were also reckless threats of preemptive war. This would have caused another major war in the Middle East, much worse than Iraq or Afghanistan. Thankfully, diplomacy resulted in a verifiable agreement that keeps nuclear weapons capability away from Iran for at least 15 years.
As part of that success, we in the Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) were proud to campaign successfully for Diplomacy, Not War in Iran including advocacy for our US Congresspersons to not block the diplomatic solution.
Instead of rattling the sabre, we need to intensify committed diplomacy with North Korea. Military force can’t resolve this, only diplomacy can. Readers wanting to support this approach can visit the CFPA web site peacecoalition.org.

The Rev. Robert Moore

Pressure Mounts On Trump to Keep Iran Nuclear Deal by SAM STEIN and JESSICA Schulberg, Nov. 11, 2016 HUFFINGTON POST

A growing number of foreign policy leaders, including several who opposed the deal to constrain and monitor Iran’s nuclear program, have begun ratcheting up pressure on President-elect Donald Trump to uphold the accord. (Read Complete Article).

76 Experts Urge Donald Trump to Keep Iran Deal


Seventy-six national security experts urged President-elect Donald J. Trump on Monday to reverse his hostility to the nuclear agreement signed with Iran last year and to use it as a tool to ease other tensions with the country. A report signed by the experts, including former officials from both major political parties, argued that the nuclear agreement had reduced the threat of war in the Middle East. (Read Complete Article).

How to Ensure the Iran Deal Survives the Next President

WASHINGTON — With every presidential debate this year, Americans are reminded that the Iran nuclear deal remains as controversial as ever. Iranians, too, are watching the election, dreading the potential consequences for the deal — and for their country’s future. Read the full article from former CFPA Annual Conference speaker Arian Tabatabai here.


Diplomacy Not War Highlights of Accomplishments 1