A Treaty making Africa into a zone free of nuclear weapons entered into force on 15 July 2009, in turn expanding the nuclear-weapon free territories to cover the entire Southern hemisphere. The Treaty of Pelindaba entered into force when Burundi deposited its instrument of ratification, becoming the 28th nation to do so. Over the last 13 years, all 53 African nations have signed the Treaty of Pelindaba.
The IAEA has issued the following statement:
"The Director General welcomes the entry into force of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba). The African NWFZ, similar to other nuclear weapon free zones in Latin America and the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, South Pacific and Central Asia, is an important regional confidence and security-building measure and would contribute to our efforts for a world free from nuclear weapons.
"The Director General welcomes the Treaty´s support of the use of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes and trusts that the use of nuclear technologies in Africa would contribute to the continent´s economic and social development."
To allow for the verification of its nuclear non-proliferation undertaking, the Treaty requires parties to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements with the IAEA equivalent to the agreements required in connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Twenty-one States in Africa have yet to bring such agreements into force. The IAEA encourages them to bring these agreements into force as soon as possible.
The entry into force of the Treaty of Pelindaba ensures that Southern hemisphere territories are now a zone free of nuclear weapons. In fact, similar Treaties are in force in South America (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific (Treaty of Rarotonga), Southeast Asia (Treaty of Bangkok) and Antarctica (Antarctic Treaty).
Following the completion of the text in Johannesburg and Pelindaba in June 1995, the Treaty opened for signature in Cairo on 11 April 1996.
The Treaty covers the entire African continent, as well as the surrounding islands, and establishes a legally binding obligation to not only refrain from developing, producing, or otherwise acquiring nuclear weapons, but also to not test, allow, assist, or encourage testing, dump radioactive waste, or station nuclear weapons on the territory of any of the States party to the Treaty.
In addition, the Treaty commits its parties to apply the highest standard of security and physical protection of nuclear material, facilities, and equipment to prevent theft and unauthorized use, as well as prohibits armed attacks against nuclear installations within the zone.