As 2018 Winter Games Begin, Activists Call on U.S. to Respect the Olympic Truce

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Rick Wayman, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation: rwayman@napf.org, (805) 696-5159, Kevin Martin, Peace Action: kmartin@peace-action.org, (301) 537-8244

 

As 2018 Winter Games Begin, Activists Call on U.S. to Respect the Olympic Truce

WASHINGTON - As the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games began on Friday, February 9, over 100 activists from around the United States sent an open letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis, calling on him to respect the Olympic Truce by postponing provocative nuclear-capable missile tests.

The letter states, “Regardless of advance planning of such tests, it is essential to global security that the United States be flexible and respect worthwhile initiatives for peace such as the Olympic Truce.”

According to Capt. Anastasia Schmidt of Air Force Global Strike Command, two tests of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles were scheduled for February 2018. On February 5, Vandenberg Air Force Base announced that a Minuteman III test would take place on the night of February 6 or early morning of February 7. The test was then quietly canceled, with no new date announced.

The open letter commends the decision to cancel the February 6/7 test, and calls on Secretary Mattis “to act swiftly to postpone any additional nuclear-capable missile tests scheduled during the period of the 2018 Olympic Truce, which lasts through March 25.”

The Olympic Truce officially began on February 2, one week before the start of the games. Even earlier, the spirit of the truce showed its potential, as North and South Korea re-opened important lines of communication after years of no official dialogue, and agreed to a joint display of unity at the opening ceremony of the games.

The letter urges Sec. Mattis to do his part to allow this positive momentum to play out:

“If North Korea were to test an ICBM during the Olympics, many nations, including the United States, would view the act as provocative and threatening. One does not have to stretch the imagination too far to guess how North Korea might react to our testing of ICBMs during the same period.”

The full text of the letter is below. To read the letter with the full list of signatories, visit http://www.wagingpeace.org/open-letter-defense-secretary-james-mattis

Gen. James Mattis

Secretary of Defense

1000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301-1000

February 9, 2018

Dear Secretary Mattis,

We were very pleased to learn of the postponement of the scheduled February 7 launch of a Minuteman III ICBM from Vandenberg Air Force Base. We urge you to act swiftly to postpone any additional nuclear-capable missile tests scheduled during the period of the 2018 Olympic Truce, which lasts through March 25.

Regardless of advance planning of such tests, it is essential to global security that the United States be flexible and respect worthwhile initiatives for peace such as the Olympic Truce. The Air Force has postponed launches due to unfavorable weather conditions, technical problems, and other issues. There is no reason why the Air Force cannot – at a minimum – postpone these ICBM tests until after the designated weeks of the Olympic Truce.

If North Korea were to test an ICBM during the Olympics, many nations, including the United States, would view the act as provocative and threatening. One does not have to stretch the imagination too far to guess how North Korea might react to our testing of ICBMs during the same period.

For the sake of global stability and to honor the Olympic spirit, we urge you to postpone any additional ICBM tests during the period of the Olympic Truce.

Sincerely,

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