Nuclear Weapons Free Zones

Background - April 18, 2006
Country by country, region by region, Greenpeace's goal is a nuclear free world. Over 100 countries are already part of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones and indeed most of the Southern Hemisphere are covered by Nuclear Weapons Free Zones (NWFZ).

"Nuclear" means trouble -- in any language.

Nuclear Weapons Free Zones (NWFZ) are not a new concept. The Soviet Union first introduced the idea of a NWFZ at the United Nations General Assembly in 1956. As you can see below many already exist and others are being discussed:

The first NWFZ - Treaty of Tlatelolco: The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean  negotiated this treaty in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It opened for signature in 1967, establishing Latin America and the Caribbean as a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in 1969. Initially Brazil and Argentina, the two countries most likely to develop a nuclear capability, did not join the zone, but came on board after civilian governments were in place.

The second NWFZ - Treaty of Raratonga: The countries of the South Pacific negotiated this treaty which opened for signature in 1985 and entered into force in 1986, with all Nuclear Weapon States except the US ratifying the protocols.

The third NWFZ - Treaty of Bangkok:The countries of Southeast Asia negotiated this NWFZ in 1997, although the Protocols that contain promises that nuclear weapons states will not use nuclear weapons against these non-nuclear weapon states, have not been signed by the nuclear powers, US, Russia, UK, France or China.

Mongolia has declared itself, and is internationally recognised, as a single-state nuclear-weapon-free zone.

The Treaty of Pelindaba:The countries of Africa agreed to this treaty in 1996, but it has not yet entered into force, when it does the African continent will also become a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.

The Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are negotiating a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone for Central Asia.

The Gulf Research Council is hosting discussions on establishing the Gulf region as a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone.

The goal of a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East hasbeen discussed for decades, but negotiations have not yet started. A resolution on the Middle East was part of the package that made agreement possible when the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was made a permanent treaty in 1995. This was an indication of just how urgently relevant disarmament and non-proliferation was felt to be in the tense and high risk Middle East.

Nuclear Weapon Free Zones have nothing but positive impacts on regional security.  Governments that have become part of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones have done a better job of protecting their citizens than the Nuclear Weapon States. Greenpeace's goal is to eventually see the world covered by a network of Nuclear Free Zones, thus eliminating the whole nuclear threat from the world, once and for all.