Monday 23 October, 0930 - 1015
The foreign secretary highlighted the success of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in limiting the spread of nuclear weapons.
He pointed to the success of the nuclear deal with Iran and expressed his confidence that the deal can be preserved despite President Trump’s announcement of decertification.
He urged North Korea to change its current course, and rejected the examples of Libya and Ukraine as cautionary tales for Kim Jong Un of giving up his nuclear programme. In contrast, he argued that Kim’s current course is the biggest threat to his regime.
He cited the willingness of China to adjust their policy and bring economic pressure on North Korea as the biggest reason to be optimistic about a diplomatic solution – though he supports the US in keeping a military option on the table.
When asked about Brexit, he reiterated his support for the prime minister’s Florence speech as the basis of a way forward in the negotiations with the EU.
When asked about the annexation of Crimea, he admitted that an adequate response has not yet be found, but emphasized that the UK has strongly insisted that Russia must continue to pay a price. He said he regrets the deterioration with the relationship with Russia but expressed his hope for constructive talks when he visits in December.
‘When you consider that every previous military development – from firearms to fighter jets – has spread among humanity like impetigo, you have to ask yourselves: why? Why have nuclear weapons been the great exception? …the answer is partly that many countries wisely decided, after the war, that they were going to take shelter under the nuclear umbrella provided by the US… it was that American offer – that guarantee – that made possible the global consensus embodied by the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty… It was an effort in which the UK – as one of the leading upholders of the post-war rules based international order – played a crucial role... That diplomacy has helped to make the world safer, more secure, more confident and therefore more prosperous… That far-sightedness is now needed more than ever, not only to keep the NPT, but also one of its most valuable complementary accords, the nuclear deal with Iran.’
‘That is the model – [the Iran deal model] of toughness but engagement, each reinforcing the other – that we should have at the front of our mind as we try to resolve the tensions in the Korean Peninsula. It is right that Rex Tillerson has specifically opened the door to dialogue. He has tried to give some sensible reassurances to the regime, to enable them to take up this offer.’
‘This is the moment for North Korea’s regime to change course – and if they do the world can show that it is once again capable of the diplomatic imagination that produced the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – arduously negotiated – and that after 12 years of continuous effort produced the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran. It won’t be easy, but the costs of failure could be catastrophic.’
‘The NPT is one of the great diplomatic achievements of the last century. It has stood the test of time. In its restraint and its maturity it shows an unexpected wisdom on the part of humanity, an almost evolutionary instinct for the survival of the species. It is the job of our generation to preserve that agreement, and British diplomacy will be at the forefront of the endeavour.’
Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, UK