2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

2010 Review Conferance of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

19 March 2010

Original: English

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New York, 3-28 May 2010

Memorandum on activities relating to the South Pacific

Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga)

Submitted by the Pacific Islands Forum secretariat


1. The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga) was signed

at Rarotonga, Cook Islands, on 6 August 1985, and entered into force on

11 December 1986.

2. The Treaty is based on broad principles for Pacific countries to:

(a) Be free to live in peace and independence and to run their own affairs, in

accordance with the wishes and traditions of their people;

(b) Enjoy peaceful, social and economic development free from the threat of

environmental pollution;

(c) Acknowledge existing international treaties, organizations and regional

arrangements, such as the Charter of the United Nations, the Treaty on the

Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the United Nations Convention on the

Law of the Sea, which contribute to these principles;

(d) Act in accordance with applicable international principles and treaties,

notably the Non-Proliferation Treaty, with respect to nuclear activities;

(e) Take account of other regional arrangements;

(f) Retain their unqualified sovereign rights to decide their security

arrangements for themselves, consistent with their support for these principles.

3. The Treaty of Rarotonga has been signed and ratified by 13 Forum members

within the original geographical boundaries of the Treaty, namely Australia, Cook

Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa,

Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The States parties to the Treaty and

the Pacific Islands Forum secretariat maintain close working relations with the

Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau, which joined the

Pacific Islands Forum after the establishment of the Treaty of Rarotonga. Although


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currently not parties to the Treaty, it is expected that, in time, these countries will

also become parties to the Treaty of Rarotonga.

4. The Treaty of Rarotonga represents a unified approach by the States members

of the Forum in fulfilling their commitments under article VII of the

Non-Proliferation Treaty. It also represents a significant achievement and

contribution of the Pacific Islands Forum to ongoing efforts to strengthen global

security and the international non-proliferation regime. Regional treaties such as the

Treaty of Rarotonga provide valuable support and strength to the Non-Proliferation

Treaty, as well as opportunities to enhance coordination and cooperation among

nuclear-weapon-free zones, in support of the process of nuclear disarmament, with

the ultimate goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons.

5. The States members of the Forum are deeply committed to world peace and

security, and have renounced the manufacture, acquisition and possession of nuclear

explosive devices. They are determined to keep the Pacific region free of

environmental pollution from radioactive waste and other radioactive matter, and

seek, from the nuclear-weapon States, a commitment not to conduct nuclear tests in

the South Pacific.

The Treaty of Rarotonga

6. The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga) was the

second such treaty in the world. Its area of application ranges from the west coast of

Australia to the Latin American nuclear free zone in the east and from just north of

the equator to the Antarctic Treaty area. Together with the Treaty of Tlatelolco,

which covers Latin America, and the Antarctic Treaty, the Treaty of Rarotonga

covers contiguously a very significant portion of the globe. This coverage was

greatly increased by the Treaty of Bangkok of December 1995, which created a

nuclear free zone for South-East Asia, and by the Treaty of Pelindaba of April 1996,

which created a similar zone for Africa.

7. The Treaty contains a preamble, 16 articles and 4 annexes. Under its terms, the

parties undertake:

(a) Not to manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over

any nuclear explosive device by any means anywhere inside or outside the South

Pacific Nuclear Free Zone; the term “nuclear explosive device” is used rather than

“nuclear weapon” to emphasize that the parties do not draw a distinction between

devices that have military purposes and those for which a peaceful purpose is


(b) To prevent the testing of nuclear explosive devices and to prevent the

stationing of nuclear explosive devices in their territory;

(c) To take measures, including the application of full-scope International

Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, to all peaceful nuclear activities in their territory

and to prevent the diversion of fissionable material to non-peaceful purposes;

(d) Not to dump radioactive waste and other radioactive matter at sea in the

Zone, to prevent the dumping of such waste or matter by anyone, and to take no

action to assist or encourage dumping.


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8. The Treaty of Raratonga does not interfere with the right of each State party to

decide for itself whether to allow visits by foreign ships and aircraft to its ports and

airfields. It also explicitly upholds the freedom of navigation on the high seas and

territorial waters guaranteed by international law.

9. The Treaty also provides for a comprehensive control system to verify parties’

compliance with the Treaty, including procedures for the investigation of any

complaints that may be made regarding the breach of Treaty obligations. There are

also provisions for review, amendment and withdrawal, and for the boundaries of

the Zone to be extended as further countries join the Forum and become parties to

the Treaty.

The Protocols

10. The implementation of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty is enhanced

by three Protocols that were opened for signature in 1986. Through these Protocols,

nuclear-weapon States have undertaken to apply the Treaty of Rarotonga to their

territories in the Pacific region (Protocol 1); to refrain from the use or threat of use

of nuclear explosive devices against any party (Protocol 2); and not to test any

nuclear explosive devices within the Zone (Protocol 3).

11. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and China signed Protocols 2 and 3 in

1986 and 1987 respectively, and ratified both in 1988. Neither the Union of Soviet

Socialist Republics nor China has territories in the Zone that would require

adherence to Protocol 1. France, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern

Ireland and the United States of America signed Protocols 1, 2 and 3 on 25 March

1996. France ratified the Protocols in 1996 and the United Kingdom in 1997. The

United States has yet to ratify the Protocols.

Forum secretariat activities

12. The Forum secretariat continues to promote the Treaty of Rarotonga and to

monitor national, regional and global developments relevant to the non-proliferation

of nuclear weapons. It also remains in contact with the secretariats of other nuclear

free zones in relation to relevant developments and joint activities.