Nukes no more

Published: Tuesday 30 April 1996

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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