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Southeast Asian nations keen on nuclear weapons ban

By Thanh Tam   August 2, 2022 | 08:10 pm PT
Southeast Asian nations keen on nuclear weapons ban
Foreign Ministers of ASEAN countries at the Meeting of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free-zone (SEANWFZ) Commission in Cambodia, August 2, 2022. Photo by Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
ASEAN member countries have reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the Treaty of Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone.

At a meeting of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free-zone (SEANWFZ) Commission held Tuesday in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed to strengthen consultations and urge countries that have nuclear weapons to sign the SEANWFZ Protocol, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

ASEAN member states signed the SEANWFZ Treaty in 1995 to keep the region free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

Also known as the Bangkok Treaty, it marked the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone in Southeast Asia, one of five in the world.

The other four are in Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Africa, and Central Asia.

The treaty obliges its signatories not to develop, produce or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over nuclear weapons, station or transport nuclear weapons, or test or use nuclear weapons.

They also undertake not to discharge radioactive material or wastes into the sea or atmosphere or on land within the zone, and not to allow other states to perform these acts.

It commits each State Party to use nuclear material and facilities exclusively for peaceful purposes and, prior to embarking on a peaceful nuclear energy program, to subject that program to a rigorous nuclear safety assessment based on International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines and standards.

None of the world's five nuclear powers, the U.K., the U.S., Russia, France, and China, has signed up to join the SEANWFZ.

China used to say it was ready to sign the treaty in the next few years.

Speaking at the meeting, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son said ASEAN should promote the role and values of the SEANWFZ Treaty and make a greater contribution to international efforts to ensure nuclear security and safety.

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