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Asia Pacific: Region of nuclear weapons

Publication Date : 22-11-2013

 

Advocacy groups are calling for immediate action on nuclear disarmament as the countries possession of nuclear weapons are getting too close for comfort.

Gareth Evans, member of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network (APLN) on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, said that the Asia Pacific was the only region in the world where the number of nuclear weapons was growing.

Evans, who is also former Australian foreign minister, said that currently, worldwide, there were an estimated 18,000 nuclear weapons, of which 4,000 were actively deployed.

Specifically, the US and Russia have 2,000 nuclear weapons on “hair-trigger alert”, which could be launched at a moment’s notice in 10-20 minutes, he added.

Nuclear weapons anywhere are bound to be used by state or non-state actors, whether by accident, miscalculation or by design. “The risks associated with the possession of nuclear weapons far outweigh any deterrent utility,” Evans said at a public dialogue on Thursday.

“Complacency that nuclear weapons will never be used is misplaced,” said Evans, who chairs the Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament’s (CNND) international advisory board.

He was speaking at a dialogue - Eliminating Nuclear Weapons: The Global State of Play and an Asia-Pacific Program of Action - held by The Jakarta Post in cooperation with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

In late October, APLN signed a joint statement in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, which strongly supported a nuclear weapons free region and world, and called on policy makers to urgently re-energise the disarmament agenda.

They called for very specific steps to be taken toward disarmament by each of the nuclear armed states in the region, including the US, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea and the US allies and partners who shelter under its nuclear umbrella.

Since the US and Russia has 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear stockpiles, Evans said, they must negotiate a follow-on agreement to New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to further reduce the number of deployed strategic weapons and total number of nuclear weapons.

For the remaining existing nuclear states, he said they should ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) by securing legislators approval.

“The US must intensify efforts to secure Senate for ratification. China and India, on the other hand, must be persuaded to ratify the CTBT without waiting on the US,” Evans said.

Indonesia’s former foreign affairs minister Hassan Wirajuda, also a member of APLN, underlined the need for Asia Pacific to have an Asia Pacific energy community, which would share best practices for nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

“Six out of 10 Asean countries have declared their intention to make nuclear power plants. Vietnam has already started construction,” Hassan said.

APLN published a report titled Nuclear Weapons: The state of Play, on the implementation of previous commitments by countries for nuclear weapons non-proliferation, which concluded that there had been no progress on nuclear disarmament and only some progress in nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear security and its use for peaceful purposes.

 

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