ASEAN, the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone and the challenge of denuclearisation in Southeast Asia : problems and prospects

Author/s (editor/s):

Bilveer Singh

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 138

Since the Tlatelolco Treaty was signed in Mexico City in 1967, there has been much interest in the concept of a nuclear-weapon-free zone as a device to contain the spread of nuclear weapons as well as a confidence-building measure at a regional level. Following this, especially in association with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that sanctioned regional denuclearisation, more and more areas in the Third World have been covered by such zones. Today, all the geographical areas of the southern hemisphere (Latin America, Africa, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia) have declared themselves to be non-nuclear geographical zones. Against this backdrop, this study examines the course, causes and consequences of the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ), which - unlike all the other zones in the southern hemisphere - though in force, has not yet been endorsed by the nuclear-weapons states. In addition to analysing the essence and substance of the SEANWFZ treaty and protocol, the monograph examines the internal and external dynamics relating to the denuclearisation proposal and the prospects for its future. Notwithstanding various difficulties and obstacles, however, it is undisputed that the treaty and the accompanying protocol have greatly contributed to regional security and confidence building, especially in ensuring regional denuclearisation in Southeast Asia, as compared to Northeast or South Asia.

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