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Nuclear Weapons Free Zones

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The Origins of Nuclear Weapons Free Zones: Security Communities or Substitutes for a ‘Nuclear Umbrella’? Atsushi TAGO Graduate School of Law Kobe University Japan [email protected] Word count: 7375.Abstract As early as 1958, the Polish government proposed establishing a nuclear weapons free zone in Central Europe. Today, there are at least five nuclear free zones in the world. This article investigates the key determinants of nuclear weapons free zone treaty signing and ratification using survival analysis. It turns out that conventional threat level for a state and alliance ties with one of the five “official” nuclear weapons states significantly influence nuclear free zone membership while regime type does not. These results suggest that nuclear free zones are not necessarily security communities formed by states with similar political institutions, nor are they an alternative to the nuclear umbrella of the nuclear weapons states. Rather, for joining or forming nuclear weapons free zones, what matters is a relative absence of security concerns.1 Introduction Nuclear weapons free zones, which ban the test, use, manufacture, or acquisition of nuclear explosive devices within a certain regional limit, cover large portions of the globe. There are at least five nuclear free zones in the world. The first zone was created after the Cuban Missile Crisis in Latin America. The treaty of Tlatelolco was signed in Mexico City in 1967 and came into force in 1969. As of 10 June 2007, thirty-three Latin American states participate in the regime. The treaty of Rarotonga in 1985 was the second nuclear free zone and it covers sixteen states and territories in the South Pacific. In December 1995, ten ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) members signed the Bangkok treaty and established a zone that covers Southeast Asia. A few months later, in April 1996, African states also agreed to set up a nuclear free zone on the continent; the Pelindaba treaty will come into force when the twenty-eighth state deposits an instrument of ratification with the depositary. Most lately, in September 2006, the five Central Asian states reached an agreement to establish a nuclear weapons free zone at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan.1 These five nuclear free zones may be merely symbolic and have very limited substantive effects in international relations. Nevertheless, the zones are endorsed by a number of member states. It is in fact widely believed that these zones can promote “the security of non-nuclear weapon states both by obtaining pledges from nuclear weapon states regarding the non-use of 1 The President of Mongolia also announced before the 47th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1992 that Mongolia’s territory would be a nuclear weapons free zone. Some categorize this as a nuclear weapons free zone, though it only contains one country.2 nuclear weapons against members and by discouraging or preventing the deployment of nuclear weapons within the affected regions” (Leigh-Phippard 1993: 93). Indeed, if nuclear weapons zones have even some of these beneficial effects, it is puzzling why more states lacking nuclear capabilities do not join the free zones. There have been proposals to establish a zone in the Middle East, South Asia, the Balkans, and the Korean peninsula. However, none have become a reality, perhaps because forming a nuclear free zone also involves some costs. Skeptics might well ask the opposite question. Why are so many countries signatories to nuclear weapon free zones when these treaties are bound to be less effective in deterring threats (particularly nuclear threats) than a nuclear umbrella provided by a major power, such as the United States? Japan, for example, the only state attacked by nuclear weapons twice, benefits from a US nuclear deterrent that has helped to maintain Japanese security for more than six decades. Why do some states ally with nuclear states to obtain a nuclear umbrella while other states do the opposite, becoming a member of a nuclear weapons free zone? This study answers these questions through the use of a large-N dataset and by applying the statistical technique of survival analysis. The rest of the article proceeds as follows. The second section provides an overview of the evolution of nuclear weapon free zones. I detail which proposals were realized, and when agreements were ratified. In the third section, I elaborate three competing hypotheses to explain the origins of nuclear weapons free zones. The fourth section explains the research design, followed by the fifth section that reports details of the results of the statistical analyses. The last section provides my concluding thoughts.3 The Evolution of Nuclear Weapons Free Zones: A Short History The origin of the concept of a “nuclear weapons free zone” can be traced back as early as 1958, when the Polish government announced the Rapacki Plan, named after its foreign minister (Ozinga 1989; Goldblat 1997). The proposal was aimed to prevent the nuclearization of West Germany and the deployment of Soviet nuclear weapons on Polish territory. The proposed zone was to comprise Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany and West Germany. Of course, the proposal had no chance of becoming a subject of substantial international negotiation under Cold War conditions but several of its elements were later realized elsewhere in the world. In February 1967, fifteen Latin American states signed the Tlatelolco treaty after over three years of intense negotiations. The treaty prohibits the development or production of nuclear weapons in the region and also bans the receipt or installation of nuclear weapons by any Latin American country (Redick 1975: 416). The agreement also gives OPANAL (the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America) the authority to monitor compliance with treaty obligations.2 Member states are also required to reach an agreement with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) for the application of safeguards to the country’s nuclear activities. The purpose of the regime is to promote regional security by making the five major powers pledge not to test, store, or use nuclear weapons. Indeed, the United States agreed to abide 2 An amendment of August 1992 determines the IAEA as


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