15 July 2009 - Pelindaba Treaty

15 July 2009 - Pelindaba Treaty

15 July 2009 marked the entry into force of the Treaty of Pelindaba, making Africa a nuclear-weapon-free zone. It is the world’s most recent and largest such in terms of countries (53) and size (over 30 million km²). Virtually the entire southern hemisphere is now an area free of nuclear weapons.

The Pelindaba Treaty prohibits the testing, research, development, manufacturing, stockpiling, acquisition, possession, control and stationing of nuclear explosive devices in the territories of its member states. The treaty was opened for signature in Cairo on 11 April 1996.

Through protocols to the Pelindaba Treaty, nuclear weapon possessor States have agreed not to use, threaten to use, test or facilitate the testing of nuclear weapons in Africa. China, France and the United Kingdom, have signed and ratified these protocols, while Russia and the United States have signed but have yet to ratify.

Nuclear testing in Africa

The only country in Africa to have been affected by nuclear testing is Algeria, where France conducted 17 of its first nuclear tests, starting with the Gerboise Bleue (Blue Desert Rat) test on 13 February 1960. These tests triggered the first initiative towards creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Africa.

The African NWFZ, similar to other nuclear weapons free zones in Latin America and the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, South Pacific and Central Asia, is an important regional confidence and security-building measure and would contribute to our efforts for a world free from nuclear weapons.Mohamed ElBaradei, former IAEA Director General (August 2009)

Africa's contribution to ending nuclear testing

The Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) is tasked with building up the CTBT verification regime so that it will be fully operational when the Treaty enters into force. Africa plays a key role in the CTBT verification regime as it is the region with the largest number of States hosting monitoring facilities. Once complete, there will be 38 monitoring facilities located in 24 African States – 21 seismic stations, 9 infrasound stations, 7 radionuclide stations and 1 radionuclide laboratory, see interactive map.

We welcome and celebrate this African initiative. This is a sign that the coordination work between both Zones could be easier...From the Secretariat General of OPANAL and with the commitment of Member States, we can assure you that we will continue working in order to consolidate the Zone and to build the bridges towards a nuclear weapon free world.Ambassador Gioconda Ubeda, Secretary General of OPANAL (June 2011)