Northeast Asia Regional Conference Identifies Challenges Ahead
Jeju Island, Republic of Korea

DPRK’s nuclear programme was at the top of the security agenda for Northeast Asia and the international community, according to a UN conference held on Jeju Island, Republic of Korea, from 3 to 5 December 2002. The need to explore the root causes of terrorism was also on the agenda. 

DDA’s Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific convened the conference, entitled "Changing Security Dynamics and Implications for Disarmament and Non-proliferation". 

Opened by Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala, the conference reviewed security issues in the region focusing on disarmament and non-proliferation on the Korean peninsula, especially concerns about weapons of mass destruction, missiles and combating terrorism. 

Tsutomo Ishiguri, Director of the Regional Centre, noted the general view that multilateral disarmament and arms control regimes remained essential to the maintenance of peace and security. 

One participant advised the UN to set up fact-finding teams to identify root causes of terrorist problems and to use conflict resolution techniques to avert further terrorism. Another stressed the importance of the need for good intelligence, in that proliferation concerns drive nuclear insecurity and result in distorted security assessments. The difficulty of finding usable diplomatic, military or economic tools to halt or reverse proliferation was also stressed.

Some participants welcomed agreement on the draft treaty text for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia (CANWFZ) drafted at the expert level on 27 September 2002 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Some commended the draft text as a concrete step towards nuclear non-proliferation and regional security. Other subjects concerning the Korean peninsula touched upon: what role did China play in influencing DPRK to rethink or abandon its nuclear programme? Could the states in the region live with a nuclearized and missile capable DPRK? Would the US provide specific security assurances to DPRK?

Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction

Regarding terrorism and WMD, concern was expressed that focus might have shifted from multilateral negotiations to arrangements and activities outside the established UN framework. Multilateral approaches emphasize universal and non-discriminatory agreements, it was stated, and the fight against global terrorism required comprehensive actions including addressing conditions that may offer a breeding ground for terrorists. 

Thirty representatives from governments, academic and research institutes and non-governmental organizations, mainly from the region, participated in the Conference in their personal capacities. Conference expenses were financed entirely by contributions from the Government of the Republic of Korea.