THE South Pacific region will now be out
of bounds for countries wanting to
conduct nuclear tests. At long last
France, the UK and the us (with Russia
and China) finally affixed their signatures, on March 25, to the I I -year old
Treaty of Rarotongo, which seeks to ban
nuclear weapons from the region, at the
Fijian capital of Suva.
The treaty covers 30 million sq km of ocean and several tiny islands which are home to nearly 26 million people. It bans the testing, storage and deployment of nuclear weapons in the zone. Considered for long a 'nuclear playground' by nations wanting to display their supremacy, the region will now be peaceful. The South Pacific Forum, which represents the region's 16 nations, has approved of France's agreement on the ban. France had recently raised the ire of these and other nations by conducting six nuclear tests in the South Pacific. Said Julius Chan, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and Forum chairperson, that the accord "marks the end of a tense and uncertain period when the region was a testing ground, and in certain respects, a battle ground for nuclear testing by the nuclear powers".
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