The Treaty of Tlatelolco

46497943_10161228587365472_3220843945760129024_nDid you know that Mexico played a leading role in keeping nuclear weapons out of the Western Hemisphere? (Outside the U.S. of course.)

Following the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Mexican diplomat Alfonso García Robles was a driving force for an initiative to develop a framework for keeping the region nuclear-free.

Following a series of conferences with nations from all over the region, the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco was drafted to prohibit and prevent the “testing, use, manufacture, production or acquisition by any means whatsoever of any nuclear weapons” and the “receipt, storage, installation, deployment and any form of possession of any nuclear weapons.” (The treaty is named after the district in Mexico City where the meetings were held.)

This was the first time that a nuclear ban was enacted over such a large and heavily populated area. Not only did it prevent another Cuban Missile Crisis scenario, but it ensured that countries like Argentina and Brazil—which had active nuclear weapons programs and still have that capability—would abandon these efforts. (Mexico also has the ability to make nuclear weapons but has refrained from doing so.)

Remarkably, all 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have ratified the treaty, with Cuba being the last to join in 2002. The U.S. and France signed a protocol to the treaty promising not to transfer their weapons to territories they have in the region, while they and the three other legally recognized nuclear powers—China, Russia, and the U.K.—signed a second protocol to prevent transferring or stationing nukes in the region (such as to an ally). All five countries have honored their commitments to this day.

For his efforts in promoting this groundbreaking endeavor, Robles was awarded the 1982 Nobel Peace Prize. Thanks to our southern neighbor, nuclear tensions were and remain avoided in the Western Hemisphere.

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