Protocols on Nuke Free Zones in Africa, Pacific Sent to Senate

06.14.11 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

With little fanfare, the White House last month transmitted the protocols of two treaties on nuclear weapons free zones in the South Pacific and Africa to the U.S. Senate for ratification.  The Protocols generally commit the signatories “not to use or threaten to use a nuclear explosive device” against any other party to the Treaty.

Protocols 1, 2, and 3 to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (pdf) had been signed by the United States in 1996, but were not submitted for Senate ratification until now.

Likewise, Protocols I and II to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (pdf) were signed by the U.S. in 1996, but never ratified.

In each case, President Obama wrote in his transmittal letters on May 2, 2011 that “I am convinced that it is in the best interest of the United States to ratify [the Protocols].  This step will strengthen our relations with our… friends and allies and enhance U.S. security by furthering our global nonproliferation and arms control objectives.”

Entry into force of the Protocols “would require no changes in U.S. law, policy, or practice,” the President wrote.

The Protocol packages transmitted to the Senate provide detailed accounts of the history of each agreement, along with an explanation of the Protocols’ provisions.  The Senate has not yet taken action to consider ratification of the Protocols.

There are five treaty-based nuclear weapons free zones around the world, as noted by the Arms Control Association, including Latin America and the Caribbean, South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central Asia.