If countries can be assured that neighboring states, as they feel threatened by, not having their own or other states’ nuclear weapons stationed on its territory, is hardly very likely that they will acquire nuclear weapons. Therefore, agreements on nuclear-free zones works as a barrier to nuclear weapons proliferation.
Nuclear weapon free zones can be set up by groups of States that make up entire continents or large geographical areas, but also by individual states or small groups of states. The initiative should come from the states within the region and participation must be voluntary. All militarily powerful states in the region should be involved, and there must be a functioning control.
Today, there are several areas in the world that are nuclear-free zones: Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Mongolia, Central Asia and Africa. Currently, nuclear weapon-free zones covers more than 50 % of earth’s land area (of which 99 per cent of all land in the southern hemisphere), and 119 of the world’s approximately 195 countries and 18 other areas. 1.9 billion people live within the zones.
Common for the nuclear-free zones is that the countries that have joined the conditions of such zones. It is prohibited to manufacture, testing, stockpiling or acquiring nuclear weapons. They shall not have nuclear weapons deployed on their territory, whether it is they or any other country that has deployed nuclear explosive in the area. For agreements that create the nuclear weapon free zones are some additional protocols. The protocols intended to be signed by the five official nuclear states. When the nuclear weapon states accept additional protocols as they promise not to conduct nuclear tests in the nuclear weapon free zone. They also guarantee that they will not threaten or use nuclear weapons against a country that is part of the nuclear-free zone.
To establish a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East is a controversial subject in the international disarmament machinery. It is located in the world’s interest that a nuclear arms race does not get a foothold in such an unstable region. An agreement on the Middle East as a zone free of nuclear weapons (or weapons of mass destruction) would increase security for all countries in the region.
Last update: September 2, 2015