OP-ED: How Eisenhower's ideas can help U.S./N. Korea summit

William Lambers

The upcoming U.S.-North Korea nuclear summit could use some ideas from President Dwight Eisenhower, who arranged the 1953 armistice ending the fighting of the Korean War. This would include Eisenhower's proposals on nuclear testing and open skies for peace flights.

President Trump says he is happy North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has not tested any nuclear weapons lately. But we would be a lot happier if North Korea joined the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, ending nuclear testing forever.

It was President Eisenhower who originally proposed ending all nuke tests worldwide during the Cold War negotiations with the Soviets. Sadly, today the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is not in effect because North Korea and seven other nations have not ratified it. The United States is among the seven other holdouts. So is China, another key regional player in the Korea nuclear standoff.

Wouldn't it make sense for North Korea, the United States and China to ratify the CTBT as part of nuclear peace in Asia?

Eisenhower believed ending nuclear testing was a critical step toward stopping the arms race. Ike said not achieving disarmament, including a ban on nuclear testing, would "have to be classed as the greatest disappointment of any administration — of any decade — of any time and of any party."

FILE - In this June 12, 2018, file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands at the conclusion of their meetings at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island in Singapore. U.S. analysts say they have located more than half of an estimated 20 secret North Korean missile development facilities. The findings come as the Trump administration’s denuclearization talks with the North appear to have stalled. And they highlight the challenge the U.S. faces in ensuring that North Korea complies with any eventual agreement that covers its nuclear and missile programs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool, File)

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The failure to bring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into effect has harmed any hopes on further nuclear arms reductions.

If the United States, North Korea and China each ratified the treaty, it would encourage disarmament talks on the Peninsula. North Korea is the most recent nation to test nukes. We certainly want North Korea to join the treaty and submit to inspection of its testing facilities.

If we had cooperation from North Korea on the CTBT, this could expand into other areas to build a disarmament program. For there to be disarmament of North Korea’s nukes, there has to be a system of verification built on trust and practice. The CTBT would be a good early step to get this confidence building process underway.

Let’s face it too. The United States has not been a champion of nuclear arms control lately, having withdrawn from the INF Treaty with Russia. What credibility do we have right now having also withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal?

We need to make nuclear arms control great again by honoring pacts and working to strengthen them, rather than walk away. President Trump could easily ask the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to help regain some momentum on controlling the nuclear threat. We want all nations to end nuke testing and begin negotiations to bring weapons arsenals down to the lowest levels possible.

Another idea of Eisenhower’s could also build confidence on the Peninsula. During the Cold War, Eisenhower proposed “open skies for peace” where U.S. and Soviet airplanes could fly over and inspect each other’s territory and military installations. The idea was to reduce the threat of surprise attack and build cooperation. The Soviets rejected the plan during the Cold War but President George H.W. Bush revived it, leading to the 1992 Open Skies Treaty with Russia, Canada and European nations.

One of the great things about open skies flights is that Russian and American officers cooperate on the flights. Imagine an open skies agreement with North and South Korean military officers working together on the inspection flights.

These are some ideas from the past that could help move us forward to what we all want: Peace and disarmament on the Korean Peninsula.

— William Lambers is the author of “Nuclear Weapons, the Road to Peace and Ending World Hunger.” His writing has been published by the New York Times, History News Network, The Hill, Newsweek and many other outlets.