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Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones 

A nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ) is a region in which states agree to prohibit the possession, manufacturing, testing, and stationing of nuclear weapons.  These agreements can be either unilateral or multilateral.  NWFZs reinforce the international nonproliferation regime and strengthen regional stability by decreasing the probability that a state will seek nuclear weapons to counterbalance a threatening neighbor.  Latin America was the first NWFZ, established by the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco, which entered into force in 1969.  In 1968, Article VII of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) strengthened the NWFZ regime by affirming the right of states “to conclude regional treaties in order to assure the total absence of nuclear weapons in their respective territories.”  The UN General Assembly also acknowledged this right and, in 1975, created a set of guidelines for future NWFZ treaties.  These guidelines require that any state within a NWFZ consent to (1) the prohibition of nuclear weapons in the region, (2) an international verification system, and (3) an indefinite treaty duration.  The UN Disarmament Commission has since adopted an additional set of principles for creating NWFZs that include peaceful uses of nuclear energy and commit nuclear weapons states to legally binding protocols that ban the use of nuclear weapons against any NWFZ state party.  Currently, there are five regional NWFZs supported by treaties—all of which have entered into force.  There are also multilateral NWFZ treaties that prohibit nuclear weapons deployment in Antarctica, outer space, or on the seabed.