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Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Four Powers Not Ready to Back Southeast Asia Nuke-Free Zone Treaty
The majority of the global nuclear powers are not prepared to formally support the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty at a meeting this week in Cambodia, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday (see GSN, July 5).
France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States "have introduced the text of reservation and position reservation to the [treaty] commission very late; therefore, the commission has not had more time to review them, and the commission decided that the signing will be postponed so that we will have more time to review the text of reservation and position of reservation," according to Kao Kim Hourn, secretary of state for Cambodia's Foreign Ministry. "We do hope that the signing by the four countries can take part during the 21st [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] summit in November this year."
Phnom Penh last week indicated that the four nations and China intended to sign the treaty protocol during a Thursday gathering of top diplomats from ASEAN states in the Cambodian capital.
The 1995 treaty prohibits the manufacturing, storage, transfer or use of nuclear weapons in the region. The protocol calls on the nuclear powers to rule out the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against treaty member nations, and to avoid any action that would breach the accord's strictures.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the nuclear powers have been discussing the matter since May 2001, according to Xinhua.
The ASEAN states are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam (Xinhua News Agency, July 8).
Moscow and Paris submitted documents citing their authority to protect themselves against atomic strikes, while London in its reservation said developing dangers could force it to move sensitive substances across the treaty zone, Kyodo News quoted a senior ASEAN insider as saying.
Washington backed the other nations' submissions, according to the source.
The powers' statements were a "surprise" to ASEAN states, according to a separate envoy, as the issues had not been raised during the most recent talks on the accord.
"But we hope somehow we will be able to convince them to drop their reservations because the ... treaty precisely does not allow any reservation," according to the second source (Kyodo News, July 8).
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