As the US Threatened North Korea, 122 Countries Voted to Ban Nuclear Weapons

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Emergency equipment sign is seen inside of subway on July 6, 2017, in Seoul, South Korea. According to the metropolita government, South Korea’s city subway stations serve a dual purpose with over 3,300 designated as shelters in case of aerial bombardment including any threat from North Korea. (Photo: Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images)

On July 4, North Korea conducted a missile test that, according to most analysts, demonstrated continued progress towards fielding an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental United States. Shortly thereafter, the US and South Korean militaries conducted a highly visible missile exercise of their own, launching accurate tactical missiles that could quickly strike targets throughout much of North Korea, perhaps even threatening North Korea’s leadership. Responsible US diplomacy is urgently needed to de-escalate this potentially catastrophic nuclear flashpoint.

Recent alarming actions have continued rounds of threat and counter-threat that have gathered momentum since early this year, with North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile tests alternating with massive joint US-North Korea military exercises, deployments of US naval and air forces close to North Korea’s shores and flight tests of US ICBMs — systems already fully tested, deployed and capable of raining hundreds of nuclear warheads on North Korea in short order. Although typically described as “routine,” the US government uses these tests to send a message. Prior to a similar test in early 2016, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told reporters, “We and the Russians and the Chinese routinely do test shots to prove that the operational missiles that we have are reliable. And that is a signal … that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country if necessary.”

These bellicose acts have been accompanied by equally bellicose rhetoric. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stated at an emergency meeting of the…

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