TO SURVIVE A NUCLEAR STRIKEThe Mongol Messenger
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. During the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly First Committee meeting on October 28, the UN confirmed Mongolia’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status. Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations V. Enkhbold presented the draft resolution at this year`s First committee session. In his statement, Ambassador Enkhbold noted that this year marks the 30th anniversary of Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status and that this internationally recognized status is Mongolia’s tangible contribution to building a world free of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, Ambassador highlighted the importance of the 2012 declarations by the five nuclear-weapon States on Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status. Since 1998, the United Nations General Assembly has been considering and adopting a resolution on “Mongolia’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status” biennially. At this year’s First Committee session, 46 Member States co-sponsored the resolution.
WHAT IS A NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE ZONE?
A nuclear-weapon-free zone refers to a country or region that is prohibited from using, testing, transporting, or developing nuclear weapons as part of a specific agreement. Previously, there were five Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZs), covering territories in most of the Southern Hemisphere and Central Asia except Mongolia. Antarctica has a special nuclear-weapon-free status as well.
The Treaty of Tlatelolco of 1967`s was the first treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the 40 years since the signing of this historic agreement, the following treaties including South Pacific (Treaty of Rarotonga, 1985), Southeast Asia (Treaty of Bangkok, 1995), Africa (Treaty of Pelindaba, 1996), and Central Asia (Treaty of Semipalatinsk, 2007), were established respectively and most of the populated areas of the Southern Hemisphere generally belong to the nuclear-weapon-free zone.
In addition, other treaties deal with the denuclearization of geographical regions. For example, the Antarctic Treaty (1959), the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War, set aside the continent as a scientific preserve, establishing freedom of scientific investigation, and banning military activity, because of the Antarctic accounts for 90 percent of Earth`s total ice volume and 70 percent of its fresh water; and the Seabed Treaty (1971) which is the treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor and in the Subsoil thereof. However, the entire continent has been denuclearized by the Antarctic Treaty, while the Seabed Treaty covers only the South Pacific Ocean. Furthermore, the Outer Space Treaty, which was adopted in 1967, also contains provisions to keep outer space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, free from nuclear weapons and the Moon agreement (1979) as well.
MONGOLIA`S EFFORT TO BECOME A NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE ZONE
As for Mongolia, in September 1992, the country launched an initiative to become a nuclear-weapon-free zone and announced it internationally. While most countries can form nuclear-weapon-free zones with their neighbors, that is not an option for Mongolia, a landlocked country sandwiched between two nuclear giants, China and Russia. It thus declared itself a single-state nuclear-weapon-free area in 1992. So, Mongolia is the only country in the world with self-declared nuclear-weapon-free status and has achieved certain success in the field of recognition.
Mongolia has been making efforts to gain international recognition of its nuclear-weapon-free status, and as a result of these efforts, a decision supported by the United Nations General Assembly was made in 1998. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of declaring as a NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE ZONE, Mongolia and the five States (Russia, China, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France) signed parallel declarations at United Nations Headquarters concerning security assurances in 2012.
In its declaration, Mongolia, based on its legislation of 2000, not only reaffirmed the general prohibitions implemented under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons but also pledged not to station or transport nuclear weapons or parts or components of such weapons nor nuclear waste by any means through its territory and welcomed the pledges made by the five nuclear-weapon States in 2000 and on 17 September 2012.
NUCLEAR-FREE MONGOLIA A ‘SYMBOL OF PEACE IN A TROUBLED WORLD
In recent years, there have been demands and initiatives to establish a free zone of mass destruction and nuclear weapons. Especially in the Middle East, Central Europe, and South Asia, the issue of creating such a zone is being discussed. So, Mongolia is an example and a way of countries that cannot join the NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE ZONE due to its geographical location, but are interested in self-declaring the NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE status and ensuring its security.
The establishment of many nuclear-weapon-free zones affects the interests of countries interested in conducting tests on the territory of others due to their small territories. However, at a time when the danger of war is increasing day by day, the countries that are free of nuclear weapons are becoming more united, and ensuring their security by the current international legal norms has become a vital issue.