Strengthening a Nuclear-Free Pacific Region
Special Reports

Strengthening a Nuclear-Free Pacific Region

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In this report, Vijay Naidu argues that the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (SPNFZT) is under threat due to intensifying geostrategic competition in the Asia-Pacific. Four developments are particularly significant sources of risks for the South Pacific: first, the AUKUS agreement and the establishment and upgrading of military bases in Darwin in Australia; second, the growth of China’s influence in the region which has triggered a geostrategic contestation with Washington; third is Japan’s flushing out of high quantities of treated radioactive waste from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plants into the Pacific Ocean; and fourth is suspected leaching of nuclear waste materials from the Runit Dome in Marshall Islands by rising sea level. Naidu closely scrutinizes each of these sources of risks and their implications for the Pacific region, especially the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), and for the SPNFZ Treaty. He urges that despite threats and its weaknesses, the SPNFZ Treaty must be prevented from falling apart, and considers ways in which the treaty can be strengthened. Beyond civil society advocacy, individual actions by small states and diplomatic pressures for all P5 states to ratify the SPNFZ Treaty, Naidu suggests that PSIDS should take collective regional actions through the PIF.  

About the authors

Vijay Naidu is currently Adjunct Professor at the University of the South Pacific (USP) where he has served as Director of Development Studies, Head of School, Dean, and Pro-Vice Chancellor. He was Director of Development Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand from 2003 to 2006. He has researched and published on Fiji and the Pacific, on a variety of areas including peace and nuclear test related topics.

Disclaimer: The opinions articulated in this work represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network or any of its members. The APLN’s website is a source of authoritative research and analysis and serves as a platform for debate and discussion among our senior network members, experts and practitioners, as well as the next generation of policymakers, analysts and advocates. Comments and responses can be emailed to

Image: Adoption of the South Pacific Nuclear Zone Treaty by the Forum 23 November 1985 (Credit: Pacific Islands Forum)