Nuclear Weapon States and the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone
Policy Briefs

Nuclear Weapon States and the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone

APLN Policy Brief 28

The following is a summary. Click on the adjacent link to download the full brief.

Southeast Asian countries have a growing interest in having the five nuclear weapon states sign and ratify the protocol to the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty in the near future. Making the protocol enter into force would help maintain the region of Southeast Asia as a zone of peace and neutrality at a time of increasing great power competition in the Asia–Pacific. The nuclear weapon states have so far resisted making progress due to four main concerns. However, changes in the global and regional strategic environments over the past few years offer new incentives for them to reconsider their positions. New developments in military technologies also make many of the original concerns less relevant today. If all parties, including the Southeast Asian countries and the nuclear weapon states, are willing to exercise political flexibility, there should be no serious obstacle for them to take the final step and close the deal soon. As the nuclear weapon states face increasing international pressure to make new progress on disarmament, signing and ratifying the protocol should be a top priority.

About the Author

Tong Zhao is an associate at the Nuclear Policy Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, based in Beijing at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. His research focuses on strategic security issues, including nuclear arms control, non-proliferation, missile defence, space security, strategic stability and China’s security and foreign policy. He was previously a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow with the Managing the Atom Project and the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.


Image: Pixabay stock, Cristian Ibarra.

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