International Atomic Energy Agency
General Conference
(Unofficial electronic version)
21 August 1996

Original: ENGLISH

Fortieth regular session
Item 21 of the provisional agenda

An African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone

Report by the Director General to the General Conference

  1. In resolution GC(39)/RES/4 on this subject, the General Conference last year:
    commended the African States "for their united efforts directed towards the establishment of an African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone" and requested the Director General "to continue to assist them in this regard".

    In the latter connection the resolution also requested the Director General:

    "to report on the implementation of this resolution to the General Conference at its fortieth regular session under an agenda item entitled 'An African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone'."

    This report is pursuant to that request.

  2. In resolution GC(39)/RES/4, the General Conference welcomed the progress made towards the conclusion of a treaty on an African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone on the basis of the Declaration on the Denuclearization of Africa, adopted by the Summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) at its first ordinary session, held in Cairo from 17-21 July 1964, and of resolution A/RES/49/138 adopted on 19 December 1994 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. In that respect, it may be recalled that, in 1993, the United Nations had requested the Agency to help the Group of Experts designated by the United Nations in co-operation with the OAU by preparing draft treaty provisions relevant to verification requirements in a future NWFZ in Africa. The Agency did so. Last year's report to the General Conference (document GC(39)/14) explained the Agency's activities in this regard.

  3. At their Joint Meeting held at Johannesburg (South Africa) from 29 May to 2 June 1995, the OAU/United Nations Group of Experts and the Intergovernmental Group of Experts of the OAU adopted the Pelindaba text of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty. The Pelindaba text was submitted to the OAU Council of Ministers at its Sixty-second Ordinary Session held at Addis Ababa from 21 to 23 June 1995. The OAU Council of Ministers adopted the text of the Treaty, as amended by resolution OAU CM/Res. 1592 (LXII)/Rev.1. Subsequently, the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (the Pelindaba Treaty) was adopted by the thirty-first ordinary session of the OAU Assembly of Heads of State and Governments held in Addis Ababa from 26 to 28 June 1995.

  4. In resolution A/RES/50/78, the General Assembly, inter alia:
    welcomed "with special satisfaction the adoption by the African leaders of the final text of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (the Pelindaba Treaty)", invited "the African States to sign and ratify the Pelindaba Treaty" and called upon "all States to respect the continent of Africa as a nuclear-weapon-free zone".

    The resolution also expressed gratitude to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to the Secretary-General of the OAU and the Director General of the IAEA for the assistance rendered by them to the Group of Experts to prepare a Draft Treaty on an African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.

  5. The signing ceremony of the Pelindaba Treaty took place in Cairo on 11 April 1996. According to the information provided to the Agency by the OAU as depositary of the Treaty, as of 22 July 1996, 48 States have signed the Treaty which will enter into force upon ratification by 28 States. The relevant Protocols to the Treaty were signed by the majority of the nuclear-weapon States. On the occasion of the signature of the Pelindaba Treaty, the African States signatories to the Treaty adopted the Cairo Declaration (INFCIRC/512) which, inter alia:
    decided "that the first session of the Conference of States Parties to the Treaty shall be held not later than one year after its entry into force" and endorsed "the establishment of the headquarters of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy in South Africa".

  6. At the invitation of the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Director General attended and addressed the signing ceremony of the Pelindaba Treaty. (A copy of the statement by the Director General at the signing ceremony is attached to this report.) The Director General also briefed African delegations about the basic features of the Agency's safeguards system as relevant to the verification of compliance with the Pelindaba Treaty. He also provided information on the Agency's activities in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy in general and in Africa in particular.

  7. On 12 April 1996 the President of the Security Council of the United Nations made a statement on behalf of the Council in which the Security Council, inter alia:
    considered that the "signature of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty constitutes an important contribution by the African countries to the maintenance of international peace and security". The Council also seized this occasion "to encourage such regional efforts" and "to support efforts on the international and regional level aimed at the universality of the nuclear non-proliferation regime".

  8. There are currently fifty-one States members of the OAU which are already party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and which have thereby undertaken to use nuclear energy exclusively for peaceful purposes and accepted IAEA safeguards to verify compliance with this commitment. The Agency applies safeguards pursuant to comprehensive safeguards agreements and facility-specific agreements in six of these States.

  9. It is to be noted, however, that the Pelindaba Treaty contains a series of undertakings supplementary to those already assumed by the States parties to the NPT. Unlike the NPT, the Pelindaba Treaty prohibits the stationing and testing of any nuclear explosive device in the territories of the parties; it also commits its parties to apply the highest standards of security and physical protection of nuclear material, facilities and equipment to prevent theft and unauthorized use; it prohibits armed attacks against nuclear installations in the zone; and it prohibits the dumping of any radioactive waste.

  10. In addition, the Pelindaba Treaty is not limited to assuring the exclusively peaceful use of nuclear energy. Its parties commit themselves "to promote individually and collectively the use of nuclear science and technology for economic and social development"; they are "encouraged to make use of the programme of assistance available in the IAEA and, in this connection, to strengthen co-operation under the African Regional Co-operation Agreement for Research, Training and Development Related to Nuclear Science and Technology" (Article 8 of the Treaty).

  11. Under the Pelindaba Treaty the IAEA is entrusted with the obligation of verifying, through its safeguards system (Article 9(b) and Annex II of the Treaty), and in accordance with the complaints procedure provided for in the Treaty (Annex IV of the Treaty), compliance by the States parties with their commitment to use nuclear energy exclusively for peaceful purposes. The Treaty also specifies (in Annex II) that the safeguards agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the IAEA shall be, or shall be equivalent in its scope and effect to, the agreement required in connection with the NPT, and that a "party that has already entered into a safeguards agreement with the IAEA is deemed to have already complied with the requirement".

  12. For the purpose of ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Pelindaba Treaty, Article 12 of the Treaty provides for the establishment of an African Commission on Nuclear Energy. The Commission will, inter alia, be responsible for collating the reports and the exchange of information required by the Treaty and for reviewing the application of safeguards by the IAEA to peaceful nuclear activities in Africa. It would also encourage regional and sub-regional programmes for co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology and be responsible for promoting international co-operation with extra-zonal States for the peaceful uses in the aforementioned field.


Conference for the Signing of the African Nuclear- Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (the Pelindaba Treaty)
Speech by the Director General of the IAEA, Dr. Hans Blix
Cairo, 11 April 1996