The African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty is now in force.
The Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa, says the accord, also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, came into effect last month with the twenty-eighth deposit of its ratification instrument by Burundi on July 15.
The ISS says “this important milestone” follows concerted efforts by itself as well as the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies based in Monterey, in the US, with the support of several other organisations, including the Parliamentary Network for Nuclear Disarmament (PNND), Groupe de Recherche et d`Information sur la Paix et la Sécurité (GRIP) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) to promote the ratification of the treaty signed in 1996.
The Treaty, which covers the entire African continent as well as its surrounding islands, will ensure that nuclear weapons are not again developed, produced, tested, or otherwise acquired or stationed in any of the countries on the continent.
South Africa built six nuclear weapons at Pelindaba, just west of Pretoria, in the 1980s, while Libya renounced its efforts to do the same earlier this decade.
In addition, the ISS says, the declaration of Africa as a nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ) means that the entire southern hemisphere is now nuclear weapons free.
Like other NWFZ treaties, the Treaty of Pelindaba, includes protocols for the five Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) to sign. To date, the United Kingdom, France and China have signed and ratified these Protocols, but the Russian Federation and the United States are yet to ratify.
By adhering to the Protocols, NWS commit themselves to respecting the status of the zone.
“Importantly, the Treaty of Pelindaba supports the use of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes, and in this respect, each party undertakes to conduct all activities for the peaceful use of nuclear energy under strict non-proliferation measures,” the ISS says in a statement
The renewed global interest in the development of nuclear power for both electricity generation and for radioactive materials used in medicine, means that the entry-into-force of the Treaty of Pelindaba will have a direct impact on the future nuclear energy developments in African countries.
South Africa, Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Kenya and Uganda, amongst others, have already publically indicated their interest in nuclear energy as a means of resolving their energy shortages and as a means to mitigate climate change.
According to Article 12 (Mechanism for compliance) of the Treaty, after entry-into-force, the Parties agree to establish an African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE).
Pic: The Ivy Mike hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific in 1954. It was the largest-ever US atmospheric nuclear blast and caused a coutier to name his new two-piece women’s bathing suit after the island.