Director. Mongolian Institute for Geopolitical Studies
Director. Blue Banner (Mongolian NGO for NWPZ)
One of the main goals of the Mongolian foreign policy is to ensure its security by political and diplomatic means. In the framework of implementing this goal, it has been 18 years since Mongolia declared its territory a nuclear- weapon-free zone in 1992.
So far, our initiative to establish a single-state nuclear-weapon-free zone has received understanding and support from many countries of the world, including the nuclear weapon states and the United Nations. It is considered as a substantial contribution to the international efforts to promote a nuclear-weapon-free world.
Because of its geographical location and the geopolitical situation, Mongolia places great importance on nuclear issues and firmly supports nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy since its ratification of the NPT and other international instruments.
During the cold war the Soviet troops equipped with nuclear weapons were stationed in Mongolia and my country at that time aligned against China, a newly emerging nuclear weapon state. In other words, during the Sino-Soviet confrontation, which lasted from mid 60s until late 80s, Mongolia remained under a constant threat of becoming a possible nuclear battle-field. Fortunately, thanks to the improvement of Soviet-China relations, Soviet troops withdrew from Mongolia in 1992.
But it is impossible to say that the nuclear danger, which may threaten Mongolia, has totally vanished. 27 per cent of all nuclear tests of the world were conducted in the vicinity of Mongolia. Environmental and health consequences of these tests have not been thoroughly studied. Today, more than 20 nuclear facilities, including nuclear weapons and nuclear waste repositories of Russia and China still operate in the proximity of Mongolian borders.
Considering the above mentioned reasons, the Mongolian government upgraded nuclear-weapon-free-existence into a state policy, and in 1992 from the UN rostrum solemnly proclaimed its territory a nuclear-weapon-free zone.
From its very beginning, Mongolia’s initiative had been welcomed in principle by its two neighbors and other countries of the world. In doing so, they accepted Mongolia’s neutrality policy not to be involved in different kinds of plans and calculations of nuclear strategy of its two neighbors and other nuclear powers. On 4 December 1998, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on “Mongolia’s International Security and Nuclear-Weapon-Free Status” without vote. The resolution welcomed the declaration by Mongolia of its nuclear-weapon-free status and invited the member states, including the five nuclear-weapon state, to cooperate and support it. Since then Mongolia’s efforts to institutionalize its nuclear-weapon-free status by international law have been advancing, though at moderate pace. Among the measures taken at the national level, adoption of the Law defining its nuclear-weapon-free status in 2000 was a historic turning point. The joint statement by five permanent members of the UN Security Council on security assurances to Mongolia was a one of the first expressions of their endorsement of Mongolia’s initiative.
In September 2001, the representatives of Mongolia and of the five permanent member states of the UN Security Council met unofficially to discuss how to issues on institutionalize Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status and adopted two concrete recommendations. They advised the Mongolian government either to conclude a trilateral treaty with its two neighbors or a multilateral treaty with all the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Following the first recommendation, in 2002 the Mongolian government proposed to the governments of its two neighbors to conclude a trilateral treaty. By concluding such a treaty, our two neighbors would commit to respect Mongolia’s status. In principle, our two neighbors agreed to adopt a legal instrument and shared their views with us regarding its possible content. Based on these proposals, Mongolia drafted the treaty and submitted it to its neighbors in September 2007. We have also consulted with them in March and September 2009 about the draft treaty.
The draft reflects not only the traditional positions of the three countries about nuclear-weapon-free zones, but also contains some specific provisions related to Mongolia’s specific geopolitical location between two great and nuclear powers. In addition, it defines their responsibilities in consolidating Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status. Like other nuclear-weapon-free zones, the draft treaty also covers issues like the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, nuclear material safeguard and verification, and dispute settlement. It also has an additional protocol which would invite the other three nuclear powers- USA, Great Britain and France to respect Mongolia’s status and to assist in the implementation of the trilateral treaty.
In conclusion, Mongolia’s initiative to establish a single-state nuclear-weapon-free zone is receiving growing support from the international community. Mongolia’s successful conclusion of a trilateral treaty with China and Russia will help it to become a full fledged member of an emerging network of nuclear-weapon-free zones. It will not only institutionalize its status officially by international law but would also mark a huge success for Mongolia’s peaceful foreign policy and serve as an important leverage in raising the country’s positive image and reputation on the international stage. Furthermore, it can serve as an important contribution to the creation of a collective security system in North East Asia.