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in international law a demilitarized zone from which the most dangerous types of weapons—atomic and thermonuclear—are excluded. One of the methods of maintaining international peace and security in accordance with the principles and stipulations of the United Nations Charter.
Proposals for the establishment of nuclear-free zones in various parts of the world make it possible to limit to a certain extent the distribution and use of nuclear weapons. The idea of a nuclear-free zone was first applied in practice in the international Antarctic Treaty of 1959, in article 5 of which it is stated that all nuclear explosions and burial of radioactive matter shall be prohibited in the Antarctic.
On Feb. 14, 1958, the minister of foreign affairs of the Polish People’s Republic, A. Rapacki, proposed an extensive program for the creation of a zone in Europe, which would include the Polish People’s Republic, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, the German Democratic Republic, and the Federal Republic of Germany, which would be free of atomic weapons, and in which conventional weapons would be limited. This so-called Rapacki plan was approved by many countries. In December 1963 the Polish People’s Republic introduced a proposal for the “freezing” (that is, the maintenance of the status quo) of nuclear weapons in central Europe, which became known as the Gomulka plan. In May 1968 the government of the USSR proposed that the whole Mediterranean region should be proclaimed a nuclear-free zone and declared its willingness not to deploy any nuclear weapons or their means of delivery in Mediterranean waters provided that the same obligations were assumed by other states. This proposal of the USSR was favorably received by the Mediterranean countries. In September 1957 the Rumanian People’s Republic proposed that a conference of the heads of government of the Balkan states should be convened to consider the question of strengthening peace in the Balkans, and on June 25, 1959, the government of the USSR proposed the creation of a nuclear-free zone in the Balkans and the Adriatic region.
In November 1961 the United Nations General Assembly at its 16th session adopted a special resolution declaring Africa to be a nuclear-free zone, and in 1964 at its 19th session it adopted a resolution declaring Latin America to be a nuclear-free zone.
A. I. IOIRYSH