Global Nuclear Security: Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone

Background And Concept: Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone – Northeast Asia (LNWFZ-NEA)

In 1991, the United States took steps to remove nuclear weapons from its operational ground forces and fleets throughout the world. This had an impact on the Korean Peninsula, facilitating treaties for the denuclearization of the peninsula between the North and the South. In the wake of this move, CISTP proposed the formation of a cooperative security community in Northeast Asia. A vital first step would be the creation of a Limited Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone (LNWFZ) around the Korean Peninsula.

  • The original concept for the LNWFZ called for the removal of all nuclear weapons in an area centered on the De-Militarized Zone of the Korean Peninsula, an area that would be 1200 miles in radius.
  • Weapons to be affected within the initial stages of the regime were limited to tactical systems only.
  • Confirmation of adherence to the LNWFZ would be affirmed by the creation of a multilateral verification force operating out of a common headquarters within the region.
  • The proposed zone was seen as a constructive confidence building measure (CBM) that will lead to the development of a cooperative security community for Northeast Asia.
  • This nuclear free zone would encourage compliance with Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and create a regional environment that would be cooperative, rather than confrontational. In February 1992, CISTP began a Track II “unofficial” ongoing effort to bring about the LNWFZ.
  • In early 1995, five senior security specialists from China, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States met for five weeks in Atlanta at CISTP and modified the proposal to add an elliptical zone option so that some US territory would be included in the zone. In order to enhance the review effort, CISTP enlarged the original five member council.


  • This Expanded Senor Panel (ESP), consisting of senior diplomats, military officers, nuclear experts, academics, and businessmen, held the first two plenary meetings in 1996 in Buenos Aires and Bordeaux and affirmed the "Agreed Principles" of the Senior Panel.
  • The ESP met in Moscow in the October 1997 plenary and proposed a plan to create a league of non-nuclear weapon states while simultaneously establishing a pilot program in which the US, China, and Russia would place a small portion of their tactical nuclear weapons under a new inspection regime.
  • The 1998, ESP meeting in Helsinki authorized a study of the Helsinki Process, the process that led to the creation of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE).
  • In 1999, two sessions were held, on April Shanghai Midterm Technical meeting and an October Hakone plenary session in Japan. The meetings focused on the LNWFZ, regional CBMs, and economic incentives.
  • During 2000, the ESP continued to explore these issues, first in the Vancouver Midterm Technical Meeting in July, and secondly during September's Beijing plenary session.
  • The Seoul Plenary, October 2001, produced a draft convention, The Seoul Treaty, for Track | consideration by all the ESP member countries.
  • The Ulaanbaatar Plenary, July 2002, reaffirmed its commitment to the LNWFZ, endorsed the Seoul Treaty and recognized the ongoing need for active DPRK participation in order to achieve its ultimate goal: a regional security structure for Northeast Asia.
  • The Jeju-do (Korea) Plenary, June 2004, noted that many of its key proposals have been incorporated into the official Six-Party Talks and considered future direction such as developing an agency for regional crisis management and promoting regional economic development initiatives. It was recommended that the six nation discussions become “Seven Party Talks” with the inclusion of Mongolia.
  • The Tenth Plenary, held March 2006 in Shanghai, included two delegates from the DPRK, and recommended completion of the Six-Party Talks, weapons denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, creation of an institutional base for peace, and normalization of relations between all NEA countries.


As a result of the Bordeaux meeting, CISTP was designated as the Interim Secretariat to coordinate research of the national working groups and to make general preparations for the Expanded Senior Panel Meetings. As part of the process, the Interim Secretariat facilitates an ongoing discussion among the ESP members during the period between plenary sessions using the instant communication tools of the 21st Century; in a sense, the meeting never ceases. The ESP has prepared a list of issue groups, or “baskets”, which now provide a focus for all current and future ESP deliberations: the LNWFZ-NEA; related Confidence Building Measures (CBMs); and economic incentives to assure all regional involvement.

With the 9 October 2006 test of a nuclear device by North Korea a new more complex crisis faces the states of Northeast Asia. This development underlines the importance of moving rapidly forward with a regional cooperative security system that has intrusive inspections as an integral part. The work toward a LNWFZ for NEA has been validated, but now its conclusion remains all the more critical. We seek your support and constructive participation as we strive for peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

Both Dr. John Endicott and the Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for Northeast Asia were nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.

March 2006 Press Release:  Meeting of the Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for Northeast Asia DPRK (North Korea) attends for first time since 1992.