ONN's Nuclear Risk Reduction Approach for the Korean Peninsula

Open Nuclear Network (ONN), a programme of One Earth Future, is a non-governmental organisation committed to global peacebuilding efforts via the two-pronged approach explained in this paper. ONN is dedicated to reducing nuclear risks through the use of open source data analysis and engagement with decision makers in areas of conflict. Its focus this year — the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War — is on the Korean Peninsula and the continued tension in the region. This paper examines the complex entanglement surrounding the Korean Peninsula’s nuclear crisis and identifies possible triggers and pathways towards conflict escalation. It serves both as a guide to establishing a general operational concept and as an action plan outline for ONN’s analysts and its Engagement Network to reduce the risk that nuclear weapons may be used in response to error, uncertainty and misdirection during times of crisis.

Key Findings

  • There are six parties involved in conflict around the Korean Peninsula: China, DPRK, Japan, ROK, Russia and the United States. Each party has different perspectives on the history and geopolitical situation in the region, and each party has a role to play in the escalation or de-escalation of conflict. The DPRK, China, Russia and the United States all possess nuclear weapons.
  • ONN identifies four broad categories of scenarios that could escalate to the point of nuclear exchange. These range from a limited military exchange to natural disasters and accidents.
  • ONN will monitor indicators of conflict escalation for all the outlined scenarios using open-source information and will regularly update their analytical capabilities on the Datayo software platform. ONN analysts will use multilingual research, satellite imagery analysis, photo and video analysis and text analysis among other tools to monitor conflict.
  • ONN’s Engagement Network is composed of motivated, influential individuals from the six parties to the conflict. They will receive regular briefings from ONN and provide guidance to make ONN more effective. ONN will provide resources to Engagement Network Members to de-escalate conflict before it can lead to an unintended use of nuclear weapons.