ASEAN Urges 5 States to Sign Commitments to Never Using Nukes in Region
Jakarta, Indonesianpost.com – ASEAN chair Indonesia said on Tuesday that the bloc should keep Southeast Asia a nuclear-weapon-free zone as the signing of a protocol that could ward the weapon of mass destruction off the region saw sluggish progress.
ASEAN is convening its members’ foreign ministers — along with its Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn — in Jakarta for a discussion on the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) treaty.
The talks mainly focus on getting the five nuclear weapon states — the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China — to sign the SEANWFZ protocol.
In 1995, ASEAN countries inked the SEANWFZ treaty as a commitment to keep the region free of nuclear weapons. The treaty includes a protocol, which is expected to provide for legally binding security assurances from the nuclear weapon states not to use or threaten to use their nuclear weapons against any state party to the treaty. But worries persist as the protocols to the treaty have yet to be signed by the five nuclear weapon states.
“We must keep Southeast Asia as a region free of nuclear weapons. The SEANWFZ has contributed to this effort and to the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime,” Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said when opening the SEANWFZ Commission meeting in Jakarta.
“However, 25 years after the signing of the Protocol of the SEANWFZ Treaty, none of the nuclear weapon states have signed it. For Indonesia, moving forward is the only option. The threat is imminent, so we can no longer play a waiting game,” Retno said.
According to Retno, keeping the region free from nuclear weapons is also pivotal to maintaining regional peace and stability.
“We must come as a united front before the nuclear weapon states. Only then can we forge a clearer path toward a region free of nuclear weapons,” Retno said.
In her opening remarks, Retno did not mention the AUKUS — the trilateral security pact between Australia, the US, and the UK. This pact involves the US and the UK helping Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
Sidharto Suryodipuro, a senior official at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, last week told reporters that the AUKUS was not on the agenda of the SEANWFZ Commission talks.