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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 10, November 1996

ASEAN prepares new Bangkok Treaty protocols

On 18 October, Abdul Kadir Mohamed, the Secretary-General of Malaysia's Foreign Ministry told reporters that senior officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), meeting in Kuala Lumpur from 18-19 October, had agreed on proposals for revising the protocols to the Southeast Asian Nations Nuclear-Weapon Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty. The Treaty was signed in Bangkok in December 1995 by 10 regional States: the seven ASEAN States of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam, plus Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. The nuclear-weapon States have thus far refused to sign the protocols, under which they would agree not to station or test nuclear weapons, due to the Treaty's definition of the region as including Exclusive Economic Zones. According to the Secretary-General, who gave no details of the proposed revisions:

"We will consult them (the nuclear-weapon States) immediately because we want to get the answer as soon as possible... We'll say, 'since you have a problem with the protocol, how about tackling it this way or that way.' The formula is flexible and we have taken a decision to consult... We have different forms of wording...to take care of the legality problems... Maybe our proposal will be modified. ...we don't want to pre-empt that but we are serious about it..."

Reports: ASEAN sets proposals for nuclear arms-free zone, Reuter News Report, 18 October; ASEAN to consult big powers over nuclear ban, Agence France-Presse International News, 18 October.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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