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IR Working Paper 1992/8
Andrew Mack, ‘The Case for a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone in Northeast Asia’, IR Working Paper 1992/8, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, December 1992.
Growing concern about nuclear proliferation in Northeast Asia has led to a number of proposals for the creation of regional nuclear-free zones. There is also in place, but as yet unimplemented, a Joint Declaration for Denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula signed by North and South Korea in December 1991. This paper reviews the arguments for nuclear weapon-free zones and compares the proposals for the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia with the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty of 1985. It concludes that the most valuable anti-proliferation function of nuclear-free zones is to delegitimise nuclear weapons – precisely the reason that the US has always opposed them.