Making the world a safer place to live in
The world has now seen the first step towards a stable and lasting peace in Korea.
The democratic state of South Korea and the world’s only necrocracy, North Korea, met on their border in the Joint Security area to sign the ‘Panmunjom Declaration’.
South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, and the Chairman of the Worker’s Party of Korea, the dictator Kim Jong-un, became the first leaders of North and South Korea to visit one another’s countries since 1953.
Seeing all this, I recall that some time ago, when representing the UK Government, I walked in that very place, under the gaze of heavily armed North Korean troops just over the border.
How these peace talks progress remains uncertain. Nevertheless, to have reached such a stage is an extraordinary achievement.
Just a year ago, the idea of a united Korea would have seemed fanciful. Ever since the Korean war (1950-53), the Communist dictatorship of North Korea has exemplified the horrors of that creed. Even now, bizarrely, the Head of State is the deceased founder Kim Il-sung and since their development of nuclear weaponry in 2006, it had seemed that this brutal regime was destined to threaten and bully its neighbours in the south and those beyond.
Yet these talks have given the world hope that this tyrannical regime may be coming to its senses, or even coming to an end. At least, we can but hope that the end of its foreign aggression is in sight.
This success, in part, stems from the West’s determined response to North Korea’s bombastic posturing. For knowledge of our military capabilities will have certainly influenced North Korea’s recent change of approach.
Nevertheless, whatever the chances for peace in Korea, the proliferation of nuclear arms continues to pose a threat.
These weapons are amongst the very worst products of mankind’s imagination, capable of destruction on an almost unimaginable scale. Ideally, we would simply be able to rid the whole world of them, but Pandora’s box has been opened.
Alongside our allies, it is our duty to hold the balance of power against those who, freed from the fear of retaliation, would use nuclear weapons.
By standing firm and confident in defence of what’s right, we can make the world safer. This need to defend our nation and our values was, perhaps, best summed up by Labour’s Ernest Bevin, who forcefully backed Britain’s accusation of the bomb in the 1940s with the words : “We’ve got to have this thing over here, whatever it costs [and] we’ve got to have the bloody Union Jack on top of it.”