Commentary: UN Security Council support sought for ASEAN "nuclear free zone"
By Jessie R. Valdez
San Fernando City, La Union (30 July) -- As the ASEAN member-states are busy discussing several issues and hammering out plans to strengthen bilateral trade, counterterrorism cooperation and forging beneficial partnerships, one major concern to be tackled by them would be the nuclear weapons ban, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said.
Sec. Romulo disclosed that there will be ten Southeast Asian nations who will take charge in drafting a plan to ensure that a treaty will be made with the cooperation of the world's nuclear powers.
He added that the ASEAN wanted to form a unified strategy on how to persuade solidly the 5 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to agree to the terms of the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty.
The SEANFWZ Executive Committee, whom Sec. Romulo also chairs, wanted the permanent 5 countries to agree to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) which would make Southeast Asia "nuclear free zone" as well as all nations in the region to implement the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rules/safeguards in the use and handling of nuclear weapons.
These move, he said aims to ensure that nuclear power plants in the region aren't used to produce weapons for mass destructions but rather for peaceful means or purposes.
In the course of their dialogues and deliberations the ASEAN members were tasked to fully review the old treaty which was ratified in l997, entitled "Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone" and will see for its implementation, Romulo opined.
"It has been observed that there are so many other countries that are developing nuclear power and that they're supposed to be clean energy, and also the possibility of nuclear weapons getting into the hands of terrorists is a concern."
In their meeting, the following terms and safeguards are expected under the plan as these will bring one another on the path to mutual understanding and partnerships: 1) adopt a five-year plan that outlines steps of compliance by ASEAN members & outside nuclear powers, 2) countries who pursue nuclear energy programs should not allow the exportation of certain materials that will lead to unpeaceful means, 3) establishment of regional network/early warning system for possible nuclear accidents & development of a regional emergency preparedness & response plan., 4) strategy on how to detect effectively the presence of nuclear weapons in passing foreign military warships.
"We will seek the support of all countries, particularly those with nuclear power - US, Russia, Great Britain, France and China, Sec. Romulo retorted. (PIA La Union) [top]