Nuclear-Weapon-Free Status: Concept and Practice
Paper presented by Amb. J.Enkhsaikhan at the Regional Meeting on
"Security Concepts in the Changing World"
Ulaanbaatar, 3-5 August 1999
The end of the Cold War resulted in profound structural changes in international relations. The international environment has also changed and opened the prospects for many small and medium States to play a more active and constructive role in international relations. Mongolia could be considered as one of such States. As a result of the changes in its geopolitical environment, Mongolia was able to radically shift its foreign policy orientation and pursue an active non-aligned policy based on the primacy its own national interests and priorities and that of the international community as a whole. One manifestation of such a change was Mongolia’s 1992 declaration of its territory a nuclear-weapon-free zone. This policy of Mongolia was welcomed by the international community, including by the five nuclear-weapon States, two of them being its immediate neighbors. The subsequent events have demonstrated that practical realization of the initiative needs the understanding and support of Mongolia’s neighbors, other members of the international community as well as a creative approach and genuine collective efforts. They have also demonstrated that small States can play positive role in strengthening their own security and at the same time promote greater confidence, regional peace and security.
Mongolia’s initiative has also raised a number of questions of theoretical and practical nature connected with the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZs), ensuring security of small States and the role of regional security arrangements in areas of application of NWFZs.
The purpose of this paper is not only to give a background information on Mongolia’s initiative that would allow clearer understanding of the broader issues involved but also raise some questions the discussion of which might be helpful for pursuing the issue both at the United Nations and at the regional level.
Mongolia’s place in the world
Mongolia’s geographical location has always been a major, and in many cases even a decisive, factor in shaping its destiny. The role of the external factor increased as Mongolia’s two neighbors in XVII-XIX centuries grew stronger and expanded their spheres of possession and influence, while Mongolia’s strength and role weakened, turning it from once the center of the largest land empire that mankind has known to an object of international relations, and then by the end of XIX century to a mere pawn in great power politics. The situation did not change in most of XX century, though Mongolia declared reassertion of its independence in 1911 and made its revolution in 1921. The main actors (besides the Mongolians themselves) and factors that influenced Mongolia’s external status, and thus its security, throughout the most part of XX century, have been mostly China and Russia ( the Soviet Union ), and their interrelationship.
With two great powers as neighbors and no access to the sea, Mongolia attempted earlier in this century to diversify and broaden its relations by establishing relations with other powers, including the United States and Japan. However these attempts have been futile, due to considerations of great power politics. Believing in lesser of the two evils, in the XX century Mongolia chose to side with the Soviets.
The Soviet period
The Soviet period of Mongolia’s history (1924-1990) is full of contradictions. Left with almost no choice throughout most of this century, Mongolia stuck through thick and thin with the Soviet Union. Thus its domestic and foreign policies followed (or copied) Soviet policies and ideology. In the period prior to World War II, Mongolia followed Soviet and Comintern policies and directives, irrespective of its own national interests and made unnecessary “sacrifices” for the sake of an alien ideology. Officially, like in the Soviet Union, the concept of “national interest” was not accepted in Mongolia. Its policy was based on the Soviet doctrine of class struggle and solidarity with the “working class” of the world, headed by the Soviet Union. Proceeding from that doctrine, Mongolia approached its security policy through the so-called class struggle principles: state security rather than national security was emphasized, which boiled down to the simplistic rule of defending “socialism” either inside the country or outside it. Search for enemies inside the country lead to annihilation of more than 30.000 of its citizens, including its elite and the clergy, and persecution of hundreds of thousands of people and underwent social experimentation. Search for enemies outside the country lead to cutting off the nascent trade and other ties with the US, Germany and other countries, and thus to isolating itself from the rest of the world, except the Soviet Union.
In early post World War II years following the creation of the People’s Republic of China as its immediate neighbor, Mongolia found itself surrounded by two communist states, which raised the hope for harmony and all-round cooperation among the three of them. However, these hopes have been dashed with the subsequent Sino-Soviet split by the end of 1950s. The seemingly ideological split by mid-1960s grew into an overt inter-state Sino-Soviet hostility. Unable to be ‘neutral’ in the conflict, Mongolia again sided with the Soviet Union. Thus between the 1960s to the end of 1980s Mongolia fell victim of two prolonged and costly “cold wars”: East-West and Sino-Soviet.
In the East-West conflict, Mongolia firmly sided with the Soviets, including on the questions of international security, arms control and disarmament. In January of 1966 it signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation with the Soviet Union, according to Article 5 of which the latter pledged to assist Mongolia in case of an external attack. When the Sino-Soviet dispute acquired inter-state character by mid-1960s, the Soviet Union and China both had heavily fortified their common border. In 1967 the Soviet Union introduced its troops into Mongolia. Soon Mongolia’s two neighbors with numerically the strongest armies (China - 4.7 mil. and the Soviet Union - 2.9 mil.) were confronting each other, with the Soviet Union having up to 52 divisions stationed in its eastern border regions, including in Mongolia. In its turn, China deployed almost 1 mil. men in the adjacent military regions of Sinkiang, Lanchou, Peking and Shenyang. While the dispute grew tense, the Soviets perfected their nuclear arsenal, and China, having successfully tested its nuclear weapon in 1964, began developing various types of nuclear weapons, from tactical to strategic.
At the height of Sino-Soviet conflict in 1969, when the armed clashes occured along their border, Moscow had around 60-75.000 troops, including two tank and two motorized rifle divisions, plus unspecified air force units stationed in Mongolia. Some of the troops were equipped with intermediate range ballistic missiles with nuclear and chemical warheads.
Having sided firmly with the Soviets in the Sino-Soviet dispute and having Soviet troops on its territory, Mongolia was in fact more than a strategic buffer for the Soviets against China. It was also a springboard from which the Soviets could launch a blitzkrieg-type military offensive into northern China, and even Beijing, given the presence of the large Soviet land forces in Mongolia. Furthermore, in late 1960s and early 1970s, there was a danger that in an attempt to preempt China’s improvement of its nuclear arsenal and nuclear forces, the Soviets might be tempted to undertake a preemptive nuclear strike at Chinese nuclear installations. It therefore was no coincidence that Soviet military experts and strategists were writing at that time that “along with conventional war and instantaneous nuclear war of incredible magnitude and devastation, war involving the restricted use of nuclear weapons in one or more theaters of military operations should not be excluded.” It was also assumed that since China was Soviet Union’s potential adversary, in case of a war between the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies on the one side, and the United States and NATO on the other, a perceived second front, i.e. between the Soviet Union and China, would involve the use of nuclear weapons. This concept of “limited” nuclear war was later abandoned by the Soviet military theory since it has been recognized to be practically impossible to contain nuclear war within predetermined bounds.
Since Mongolia was considered to be an important bastion of socialism in Asia, its territory was expected to play a strategic role in a potential Sino-Soviet confrontation or war. However, the nature of Soviet-Mongolian “alliance” and of the Brezhnev doctrine in general meant that the ultimate decision to use force, including nuclear weapons stationed in Mongolia, was to be taken by the Soviets themselves, without real consultation with the Mongolian side. The latter probably would have been informed of the decision ex post factum. In other words, the Mongolians did not have a say in the potential use of nuclear weapons from their territory. Mongolia’s role as a strategic bridge-head in the potential conflict meant that in case of a conflict, Mongolia would have surely been turned into a battlefield.
New realities and new policies
Soviet agreement to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan and Mongolia as well as to ensure withdrawal of Soviet-backed Vietnamese forces from Cambodia in late 1980s have opened the way for normalization of Sino-Soviet relations. Subsequent end of the East-West and Sino-Soviet cold wars, the disintegration of the so-called socialist world and of the Soviet Union itself have fundamentally changed Mongolia’s geopolitical environment. These changes have allowed Mongolia to abandon its pro-Soviet policies, and, for the first time in three hundred years, to define and pursue its own national interests and priorities.
In the new geo-strategic environment, Mongolia abandoned its reliance on one state only, abandoned its ideologically oriented domestic and foreign policies and adopted the so-called “multi-pillared” foreign policy, diversifying in fact its foreign relations beyond its immediate neighbors. This major pragmatic turn in its foreign policy has found reflection in the “Concept of Foreign Policy of Mongolia”, adopted by the State Ikh Khural ( the parliament) of Mongolia in June of 1994. The concept has thus declared that Mongolia’s foreign policy would henceforth be based on political realism, non-alignment and pursuit of its own national interests as reflected in the 1992 Constitution, and that its priority would be to safeguard its security and vital national interests primarily by political and diplomatic means. While championing its national interests, it pledged to respect the legitimate interests of its neighbors and partners.
Alongside with this new foreign policy concept, the parliament adopted in June 1994 the first ever “National Security Concept of Mongolia”, which clearly defined the areas of Mongolia’s security concern. Based on the policy of maintaining balanced relationship with its two neighbors, the concept underlined that this relationship did not mean merely keeping equidistance between the neighbors or taking identical position on all issues. The policy meant strengthening trust, developing good-neighborly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation with both of them. It was pointed out that when dealing with these countries, due account would be taken of their policies towards Mongolia’s national interests, above all its clearly defined vital interests. As to the disputes that might arise between the two neighbors in the future, it was underlined that Mongolia would pursue a policy of non-involvement and neutrality, unless the disputes affected its vital interests, in which case it would naturally follow the vital interests.
In line with the above policy, Mongolia has concluded treaties of friendly relations and cooperation with Russia and China in 1993 and 1994 respectively. In these treaties, the parties agreed to develop their relations on the basis of the principles of respect for sovereignty, independence, sovereign equality, non-use of force or threat of force, inviolability of borders, territorial integrity, non-interference in the internal affairs and other principles of international law.
According to Article 4 of the treaty with Russia, both sides have pledged not to participate in military and political blocks directed against the other party and not to conclude with third States treaties and agreements detrimental to sovereignty and independence of that other party. It was also agreed that neither of the parties would allow the use of their territory by third States for committing aggression or other forceful acts. In the same Article 4 Russia has pledged to respect Mongolia’s policy of non stationing on its territory and non transit through it of foreign troops as well as nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
According to Article 4 of the Mongolian-Chinese treaty, the parties pledged not to participate in military and political blocks directed against the other party and not to conclude with third States treaties and agreements detrimental to the sovereignty and security of the other party. They have also pledged not to allow third States to use their territory to the detriment of their sovereignty and security. In a separate Mongolia-Chinese statement, the Chinese side reaffirmed its respect for Mongolia’s independence, state sovereignty, territorial integrity and nuclear-weapon-free zone status. China has also expressed its respect for Mongolia’s policy of banning the stationing on its territory and transit through it of foreign troops as well as nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
Policy towards nuclear disarmament
Mongolia has always been a strong advocate of disarmament. It has always been in favor of according the highest priority to nuclear disarmament. Thus it has consistently advocated cessation of the arms race, especially nuclear arms race, and taking practical steps to this effect in accordance with the Final Document of the Tenth Special Session of the General Assembly, the first special session devoted to disarmament and welcomed every positive step taken by the Soviet Union ( and later by the Russian Federation ) and the United States on bilateral basis or unilaterally to reduce the nuclear danger, nuclear arms race or some of their nuclear arsenals. Mongolia believes that every step, however small, should be taken to reduce further the nuclear danger and arsenals, and create a climate conducive to further disarmament. Thus it supports the measures to de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons and, in that context, to revise nuclear doctrines, de-alert and de-activate nuclear weapons, and to halt qualitative improvement of nuclear warheads or their delivery systems.
As member of the Conference on Disarmament that associates with the group of twenty-eight, it believes that the nuclear-weapon States should take the necessary steps to fulfill their obligations under Article VI of the NPT and immediately start negotiations to that effect, and adopt a comprehensive and phased program within agreed time frame. As to the practical measures, Mongolia was one of the first to have signed and ratified the NPT and among the first ( the seventh ) to have ratified the CTBT. Moreover, it has submitted its two seismological and one radionuclide stations to the International Monitoring System established under the CTBT.
Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free policy
In line with the above policy on nuclear disarmament, Mongolia has always been a strong supporter of nuclear-weapon-free zones. In doing so it had its own reasons. Just like the idea of the Tlatelolco treaty originated at the height of East-West cold war during the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962, Mongolia’s idea of declaring its territory is also connected with the Sino-Soviet tension and confrontation in late 1960s and early 1970s. However, because of the nature of Soviet and Chinese societies then, not many people fully realized at that time, even in those countries, that in the late 1960s the Sino-Soviet crisis in fact could easily have developed into an Asian version of the missile crisis. Though a number of unilateral, bilateral and even multilateral steps have been taken since, nevertheless the risk of nuclear catastrophe, though remote now, has not been completely eliminated. Though Russia and China have given unilateral nuclear assurances to the non-nuclear states, because of the nature of such assurances, they do not have legally binding force. Moreover, these assurances do not cover such vital issues as non-first use against each other. Therefore in any nuclear exchange, non-nuclear States, especially those adjacent to nuclear States, would be directly affected. Moreover, the assurances do not cover non-stationing of nuclear weapons or parts thereof on territories of other States.
Mindful of Mongolia’s geographical location and its past experience with the threat of “limited” nuclear war, the national security concept of Mongolia has adopted the policy of ensuring the country’s nuclear-weapon-free status primarily by political and diplomatic means. In the same manner the concept banned the use of Mongolia’s territory against other States. In a more wider context, it has also been decided to promote and support turning its adjacent area - the Central Asian region - into a nuclear-weapon-free zone.
Mongolia declares its territory a NWFZ
Mongolia embraced the nuclear-weapon-free policy in 1992, when the last of the Soviet ( by then Russian ) troops were leaving the country. Thus in his address to the 47th session of the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September of that year, H.E. Mr. Punsalmaagiin Ochirbat, President of Mongolia, announced that Mongolia declared its territory a nuclear-weapon-free zone and that it would work to have that status internationally recognized.
The above initiative is important not only for Mongolia. Bearing in mind the country’s geo-strategic location, it is also important for its immediate neighbors, especially in changing their perception of Mongolia primarily as an important buffer or a strategic springboard in power equations. The initiative, if or when realized, would make Mongolia’s policy more predictable, which is important for its two neighbors in their future calculations and policies not only viz-a-viz Mongolia, but, what is more important, viz-a-viz each other and other powers of the region. Moreover, since global and regional approaches to disarmament complement each other, the initiative, that is of regional nature, could develop into an important confidence-building and non-proliferation measures.
International reaction to the initiative
Reaction to Mongolia’s initiative on the part of the nuclear-weapon States, including its two neighbors, was positive. Thus the Russian Federation, in its treaty concluded with Mongolia on 20 January, 1993, has pledged to “respect Mongolia’s policy of not admitting the deployment on and transit through its territory of foreign troops, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.”
On 22 October, 1993 the spokesman of the Foreign Ministry of China underlined that China welcomed and supported Mongolia as a nuclear-weapon-free State and would respect its policy of turning the country’s territory into a nuclear-weapon-free zone. He noted that China had already pledged not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against nuclear-weapon-free zones or the non-nuclear-weapon States and that the pledge applied to Mongolia as well. In April of 1994, in the Mongolia-China press statement, the Chinese side reiterated once again its respect for Mongolia’s independence, state sovereignty, territorial integrity as well as its nuclear-weapon-free status. It was underlined that China respected Mongolia’s policy of prohibiting the deployment on and transit through its territory of foreign troops, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
United States’ position on Mongolia’s initiative, which influenced the positions of Britain and France, was expressed in October and December of 1993. It stated that “In adhering closely to the letter and spirit of the NPT, Mongolia, as a non-nuclear sovereign State friendly to the United States, benefits from the United States’ commitment to seek Security Council assistance for non-nuclear-weapon States who are members of the NPT in the event of a nuclear attack on them, and from US assurances that it would not use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear State not allied with a nuclear-weapon State…If Mongolia ever faces a threat and decides to refer the matter to the United Nations Security Council, the United States, along with other members of the Council, would consider appropriate steps to be taken.”
The United Kingdom and France made declarations of support on 1 November 1993 and 24 January, 1994 respectively. Besides the nuclear States, many other States have expressed support for the initiative. Thus the Heads of State and Government as well as the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Non-Aligned Movement on a number of occasions have expressed their unanimous support for the initiative. Thus in Durban in September of 1998, the Heads of State or Government of NAM “ expressed their support of Mongolia’s policy to institutionalize its single State nuclear-weapon-free status”.
Political environment and need for pursuing the initiative
The positive steps that have been registered in non-proliferation and nuclear arms reduction fields in early 1990s create a positive atmosphere for pressing further nuclear arms control and disarmament. The reluctance of some States to review their nuclear deterrence doctrines, reversal by some of their non-first use doctrines, reiteration by the NATO of their nuclear deterrence doctrine, the events in South Asia, steps that could alter the nuclear strategic balance, continued vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons and some other negative trends underline the necessity for the international community to pursue even more vigorously the nuclear disarmament agenda and reverse these trends.
Conducive political environment for pursuing the initiative
Mongolia’s initiative comes from a region where two of the five declared nuclear powers are situated, sharing thousands of miles of common border with each other ( and with Mongolia ) and where many nuclear and nuclear-weapons related structures are situated. It is also a region where almost every fourth registered nuclear-weapon test in the world ( i.e. 136 tests in the atmosphere and 368 underground ) has been conducted in Semipalatinsk ( former Soviet Union ) and in Lop Nor (PRC), the environmental, health and geophysical consequences of which are yet to be fully assessed. These facts alone demonstrate the need for keeping the region nuclear-weapon-free, test-free and de-contaminating it.
Russia and China both have positively responded to Mongolia’s initiative. There seem to be several reasons for that. First and foremost, foreign policies of both Russia ( previously the Soviet Union ) and China have shifted from confrontation with each other to wide cooperation. Thus in the joint declaration defining the basis of relations between them, signed at the summit meeting in Beijing in December 1992, the two sides had declared that their disputes would henceforth be resolved by peaceful means, that they would not use or threaten to use force in any form against each other, including the use of the territory, the territorial waters and air space of third neighboring countries. They have also pledged that they would not participate in any military-political alliances directed against each other, nor conclude with third countries any treaties or agreements that would be detrimental to state sovereignty and security interests of the other party. In the nuclear field, in September of 1994, the two sides have declared de-targeting of their strategic nuclear weapons and declared not to use first nuclear weapons against each other. The agreements signed between them since then in the political, military, trade and economic fields have further strengthened the atmosphere of trust, understanding and wider cooperation.
Furthermore, absence of any territorial, border or political problems between Mongolia and its neighbors, Mongolia’s clearly defined foreign policy objectives and security concepts and policies mentioned above, that fully conform with the national interests and stated policies of the two neighbors, have also contributed to their positive response.
Of no less importance, of course, is also the general international atmosphere, including broad international support for the initiatives aimed at establishment of additional nuclear-weapon-free zones in Africa and Southeast Asia.
Brief analysis of the proposal
President P. Ochirbat’s declaration of Mongolia’s territory as a nuclear-weapon-free zone was clear cut. His reference to the “internationally guaranteed status” clearly demonstrates that what Mongolia has in mind is acquiring a status similar to other nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZs). Though none of the zones are or can be the same, nevertheless international practice and the studies undertaken by the United Nations on NWFZs amply demonstrate the need for at least the following requirements: complete and total absence of nuclear weapons in the zone of application; the initiative for the creation of the zone should reflect the geographical and political realities; the scope of application of the zone should be clearly defined; the constituent instrument of the zone should be an international treaty; there should be a system of verification and control; the zone of application should be clearly defined and the zone should, as such, be recognized by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Mongolia fully met the main criteria, while others could be met when actually establishing the zone.
The 1975 Comprehensive Study on the Question of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones in all its Aspects, when referring to the principles of establishing NWFZs, especially concerning its participants, has pointed out that “obligations relating to the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones may be assumed not only by groups of States, including entire continents or large geographical regions, but also by small groups of States and even individual countries” ( underlined by the author ). In 1976 the General Assembly expressed the hope that the Comprehensive Study, together with the views, observations and suggestions on that study, would enhance further the efforts of governments concerning NWFZs and would be useful for States in the establishment of such zones.
The above conclusion of the Comprehensive Study and General Assembly resolution 31/70 formed the international legal basis for Mongolia’s initiative.
Since Mongolia is not threatened militarily by neither of its neighbors, the primary goal of the initiative seems to have been political, rather than military one. For the same reason Mongolia’s initiative seems to be more of an insurance policy than an expression of a preventive diplomacy.
Bearing in mind the practical benefits of creating NWFZs, the proposed zone was designed to put a legal barrier to future attempts to reintroduce or deploy nuclear weapons in Mongolia under any circumstances or pretexts, and never again experience the dangers of the 1960s and 1970s.
Unlike other NWFZ initiatives, Mongolia’s proposal is innovative. This is manifested in the fact that instead of a group of States, Mongolia was determined to create a single-State zone, as recognized and accepted in the Comprehensive Study of 1975 that was endorsed by the General Assembly. Moreover, Mongolia believes that the initiative cannot be realized solely by declarations of support. The assurances it was seeking were expected to be no less credible than those given to other NWFZs. Therefore President P. Ochirbat’s reference to “internationally guaranteed status” meant that Mongolia, like other NWFZs, expected a legally based status. As the representative of Mongolia explained, to be credible, the zone cannot be based on unilateral declarations of support only, because unlike legally binding commitments, unilateral declarations are easily susceptible to changes of heart or mind. A NWFZ can be credible only when it has a clear legal basis, when parties to the arrangement have legally defined their rights and obligations.”
To make its point and to encourage debate on single-State NWFZ concept, the Mongolian delegation introduced in April of 1997 in Working Group I of UNDC a working paper on the principles of establishment of such a zone ( the Commission was mandated to examine the question of “The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned” with the aim of presenting to the General Assembly specific recommendations.) The working paper was referred to on a number occasions during the consideration of NWFZ issues in the UNDC and the First Committee of UNGA in 1997 and 1998.
The informal consultations held on the single-State zone has revealed that the nuclear-weapon States had two major difficulties: a) accepting single-State zone as a concept (though they pointed out that Mongolia could be considered as an exceptional case and b) accepting the notion of “institutionalization” of the zone. On the other hand, Mongolia, which did not belong to any regional or bilateral alliance, thought that its nuclear-weapon-free status would be credible only if its over-all security concerns are duly addressed. This in itself meant that Mongolia’s case could not be considered as a typical one, since all previous zones had been created within the framework of existing regional arrangements or mechanisms. All these factors were taken into consideration when a draft resolution on Mongolia’s proposal was negotiated in the fall of 1998. The draft resolution entitled: “Mongolia’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status” tried to duly address all these concerns. The draft, with some changes, was adopted on 4 December by the General Assembly as its resolution 53/77D ( see annex of this paper).
The main gist of resolution 53/77D are :
- acceptance by the General Assembly
of Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status;
- acceptance of the fact that Mongolia’s good-neighborly and balanced relationship with China and Russia constitute “an important element of strengthening regional peace, security and stability”;
- invitation of Member States, especially the five nuclear-weapon States, to help Mongolia consolidate and strengthen its “independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of its frontiers, its economic security, ecological balance and its nuclear-weapon-free status as well as its independent foreign policy”.
However no reference to the concept of single-State zones nor to the notion of “institutionalization” were made in the resolution. Notwithstanding the above, the resolution makes the first important step towards eventual establishment of Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status.
The statements made before and after the adoption of the resolution in the First Committee on 10 November as well as the statements made subsequently, inter alia, by President Jiang Zemin of China and the Russian Foreign Minister Mr. Igor Ivanov demonstrate that the resolution and the ideas behind it enjoy wide support, including of the two immediate neighbors.
Resolution 53/77D is a forward looking one. Its implementation would strengthen Mongolia’s international security and define the content of the nuclear-weapon-free status. Operative para. 3 of the resolution accepts broad definition of Mongolia’s national security and invites Member States, especially the nuclear-weapon States, to cooperate in its strengthening. The pledges contained in the treaties that Mongolia had concluded with its neighbors, and extensively cited above, provide a good basis for strengthening and developing further these important bilateral commitments, and turning them into multilateral.
Definition of Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status and the form that its institutionalization would take will depend primarily on the positions of Mongolia and its two immediate neighbors. However it would not depend entirely on them only, because the object of definition is an issue directly related to a nuclear-weapon regime, which, according to international law and practice, presupposes acceptance of certain standard minima that form the basis of the treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones. Since China and Russia are supportive of Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status and support all the established NWFZs, it would seem that the definition of Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status would not create enormous difficulties.
Another set of issues that should be addressed in implementation of resolution 53/77D is strengthening the non-nuclear aspects of Mongolia’s security.
Since security is always country specific, the content of Mongolia’s external security, especially of its political, economic and ecological security, should be clearly defined, while the ways and means of ensuring and strengthening them should be agreed upon either on bilateral, trilateral or multilateral basis, depending on the issues involved. Since Mongolia has treaties on friendly relations and cooperation with its immediate neighbors, has no political problems with neither of them, there seem to be a sound political and solid legal basis for the implementation of operative para. 3 of the resolution.
The political aspects of Mongolia’s security could be strengthened by reaffirming, on a multilateral basis its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, inviolability of its borders, its non-aligned and nuclear-weapon-free status. That could be reflected in a P5 joint declaration or statement, or in a political protocol or even in the statement of the President of the Security Council. For the status to be viable and effective, perhaps a sub-regional security arrangement could be devised that would also reflect the legitimate interests of its immediate neighbors. A balanced, transparent and practical arrangement would be useful not only for all the three States concerned, but could also form part of a broader regional security arrangement.
It is difficult, and in fact too early, at this stage to point out the form and shape that implementation of operative para. 3 could take. However it seems that one should look into the possibility of defining a set of principles and rules, and devising some form of an arrangement that would adequately address Mongolia’s international security needs and concerns as well as the legitimate interests of its two neighbors. It is also clear that implementation of operative para. 3 of the resolution cannot be achieved at once or reflected in one or two agreed documents. It would take a process and a number of concrete measures to do so. The author believes that the identification of the nuclear-weapon-free status and strengthening of the non-nuclear aspects of Mongolia’s security could be undertaken in parallel. One of the possible ways of dealing with the definition of the nuclear-weapon-free status is to have Mongolia adopt a national legislation on its status, bearing in mind the international practice of establishing NWFZs, and on the basis of that legislation address the specific issues that would involve other States, including nuclear-weapon States, and address such questions as security assurances, transit of nuclear devices, verification and other related issues.
In Mongolia’s context, the economic security needs that ought to be addressed are first and foremost connected with ensuring unimpeded and fair access to the sea, security of its financial and banking systems from arbitrary foreign interventions, and, in a broader sense, commitment from the P5 to ensure non-resort to economic coercion designed to subordinate to others’ interests the exercise by Mongolia of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure by others unilateral advantages of any kind. Such commitments have been made in 1994 by the US, Russia and Britain with respect to Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan in form of memoranda.
As to ecological security needs, international assistance in Mongolia’s unequal and strenuous struggle against desertification and deforestation, assistance in reversing these ominous trends are vitally important. Moreover, it would be in the spirit of ensuring nuclear security if the nuclear tests are not resumed under any pretext in the future, and assistance is given to assess the effects of the past nuclear tests on the population and the environment adjacent to the Semipalatinsk and Lop Nor test cites ( no serious monitoring was done and there is no sufficient data on the effects of the weapons tests on the population and the environment ) and nuclear wastes are not dumped on the adjacent to Mongolia areas that could in the long run affect the population and the environment.
For all practical considerations, the national legislation and the agreed principles, rules and arrangements together could form a special international regime concerning Mongolia’s international status.
Role of the United Nations
Resolution 53/77D explicitly underlines that its implementation depends on cooperation of Member States, especially the five nuclear-weapon States, with Mongolia, either on bilateral, trilateral or multilateral basis.
The relevant United Nations bodies are asked and expected to play an important supportive role. Operative paras. 5, 6 and 7 of the resolution defined the concrete role that the United Nations was asked to play. Thus the General Assembly:
a) requested the Secretary-General
and relevant UN bodies to provide the necessary assistance to Mongolia,
within existing resources, to take the necessary measures, mentioned in
operative para. 3;
b) requested the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the resolution at its fifty-fifth session, and
c) decided to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fifth session an item entitled: “Mongolia’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status”, so as to consider this question at that session.
With its rich international
experience and expertise, the United Nations can and should play an important
role in the implementation of this resolution. Thus it could provide the
necessary expertise and advice on defining the nuclear-weapon-free status
in conjunction with Mongolia’s international security, make studies on
possible sub-regional arrangements that could supplement and reinforce
the status and make arrangements that would ensure that once the
nuclear-weapon-free status is defined and agreed upon, it is fully observed
and respected. The IAEA could play a useful role in the latter as
well as in peaceful nuclear development. The United Nations
could also help in addressing the non-nuclear aspects of Mongolia’s security,
especially in advising on economic and ecological security, in developing
a trilateral security arrangement that would make this part of the region
more predictable and stable, and that could comfortably fit into a wider
regional security structure or arrangement.