TREATY OF BANGKOK
Following a decade-long impasse, the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) is finally on the path to being endorsed by the world's five recognised nuclear-weapon states _ China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
An agreement by these nuclear powers to respect the prohibition of nuclear weapons in Southeast Asia and to provide legal assurances that they will not use such weapons against zone members, helps to strengthen the commitment by regional states not to pursue nuclear weapons, and contributes more broadly to global nonproliferation and disarmament efforts.
Over the past several months, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the five nuclear-weapon states have held a series of discussions as part of a renewed effort to resolve long-standing issues preventing agreement on the protocol to the Treaty of Bangkok, which established the SEANWFZ zone in 1995. This protocol contains the pledge not to use nuclear weapons against zone members, called a ''negative security assurance'', that would apply to the five nuclear-weapon states recognised under the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). China, the only nuclear-weapon state that maintains a no-first-use policy, has had reservations about the protocol similar to those expressed by the other four nuclear powers. But it announced in 2004 that it had reached agreement with Asean members and publicly supported signing it. On the eve of the Nov 19, 2011 Asean summit, Asean members and the nuclear-weapon states reached agreement on the outstanding substantive issues related to the zone, paving the way for the nuclear powers to sign and ratify the updated protocol once some additional procedural arrangements have been concluded.
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