Regional solutions

Background - April 18, 2006
It seems that the five nuclear powers, the US, Russian Federation, UK, France and China want to have their yellow cake and eat it too.

A nuclear free world -- one free zone at a time.

By clinging onto nuclear weapons, giving them a place in security doctrines and using them as political tools to exercise power, these governments provide incentives for others to develop nuclear weapons. The best way to stop the spread is for the nuclear weapon states to lead by example. Until they honour their own legal and political commitments and get rid of their nuclear stockpiles, other countries will continue to want them and the proliferation of these weapons canand will occur.

Fortunately, the vast majority of governments do not want membership in the nuclear club. They would rather be associated with concepts like democracy, human security and sustainable development - the exact opposite of what nuclear weapons represent.

Many of these governments have come together at a regional level to form Nuclear Weapons Free Zones, which work to keep nuclear weapons out of their areas, and which shrink the geographical space in which nuclear weapons can play a role. Over 100 countries are now part of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones, which cover much of the globe, and most of the Southern Hemisphere. This means that geographically more than 50 percent of the world is already nuclear weapons free.

Eliminating nuclear weapons and energy and creating nuclear free zones will reduce danger and help build peace. Country by country, region by region, these zones will create a domino effect towards a nuclear free world. These are the goals of our work in the Middle East, Europe, and North East Asia.

Peace in the Middle East, one of the world's most volatile regions, requires intensified efforts to address the root causes of security concerns in the region, including the establishment of a Middle East Nuclear Free Zone that includes Israel and Iran. This would tackle all the weapons in the region, as well as the power programmes that can be used to mask them, and require security guarantees from nuclear weapons states outside the region.

Ridding Europe of the 480 US nuclear weapons kept in NATO non-nuclear countries (Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Turkey and Germany) is a step towards a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in Europe. By becoming a nuclear weapons free zone, free of US NATO nuclear weapons and free of nuclear weapons in France and the UK, Europe will make a concrete contribution to international disarmament.

Peace on the Korean Peninsula is the focus of the Six Party talks, the framework for de-escalatingand denuclearizing tension in North East Asia. A North East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone would offer a useful framework to preserve what the Six Party Talks will achieve: peaceful resolution of tension in the region, and nuclear disarmament. Real progress is hindered by the nuclear energy programmes of all countries involved, which only fuels political instability; alternative energy solutions are a viable option.