Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status

The present section is based on the information received to date from Mongolia concerning its nuclear-weapon-free status and relevant activities.

Overview

Mongolia, as a State committed to non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspects and to achieving nuclear disarmament, declared in September 1992 its territory a nuclear-weapon-free zone and proposed to have that status internationally guaranteed. Mongolia’s initiative was welcomed by nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States alike.

In 1993 and 1994, the five nuclear-weapon States made unilateral statements in support of the initiative. The Government of Mongolia welcomed these statements of support as a sign of political support for the policy. That support was not, however, a clear recognition of its single-State nuclear-weapon-free zone status nor did it provide the legally binding security assurances that are provided to traditional nuclear-weapon-free zones. Therefore, Mongolia continues to pursue its efforts to institutionalize its status as a single-State nuclear-weapon-free zone.

Non-nuclear-weapon States expressed full support not only for Mongolia’s policy in general but also for its efforts to institutionalize that status. It was agreed that, until the five nuclear-weapon States accepted the concept of a single-State nuclear-weapon-free zone, Mongolia could be considered as a State with a unique nuclear-weapon-free status.

Thus, it was agreed to use the term “status” instead of “zone” and that the content of the status would be defined by the States concerned. During the talks, it was agreed that, to make the status credible, Mongolia’s security needed to be addressed in a broader context, including with respect to the country’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, the inviolability of its borders, the independence of its foreign policy, its economic security and its ecological balance.

This understanding formed the basis of General Assembly resolution 53/77 D, entitled “Mongolia’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status”, adopted in 1998 without a vote.

In follow-up to General Assembly resolution 53/77 D, in October 2000 the five nuclear-weapon States issued a joint statement providing political security assurances to Mongolia (A/55/530-S/2000/1052). In that statement, they declared that the commitments regarding positive and negative security assurances that they had made separately in 1995 applied to Mongolia (see Security Council resolution 984 (1995)) which was as an important step in institutionalizing Mongolia’s status internationally.

In September 2001, bearing in mind that Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status still lacked clear international definition, representatives of Mongolia, the five nuclear-weapon States and the United Nations met in Sapporo, Japan, to consider ways and means of defining and strengthening the status (see A/57/59). The recommendation that emerged from the meeting was that Mongolia needed either to conclude a trilateral treaty with its two neighbors, China and the Russian Federation, or seek a more ambitious multilateral treaty involving all five nuclear-weapon States.

In January 2002, as a follow-up to the Sapporo recommendations, Mongolia presented to its neighbors the draft basic elements of a possible trilateral treaty regarding its status. Bearing in mind the responses of its neighbors, Mongolia drafted a trilateral treaty and a draft additional protocol to it and presented them to its neighbors, expressing the hope that negotiations on the drafts could be commenced in the near future. China and the Russian Federation met with Mongolia in Geneva in March and September of 2009 to exchange views on the drafts. At the second meeting, they presented to Mongolia a joint paper containing questions and comments on the provisions of the drafts. At the end of that meeting, they expressed the need to have the other three nuclear-weapon States — France, the United Kingdom and the United States — join the talks since they believed that any security assurance made to Mongolia needed to be extended by all five nuclear-weapon States, not only by China and the Russian Federation.

At the 2010 NPT Review Conference the Conference welcomed the declaration by Mongolia on its nuclear-weapon-free status and expressed support for the measures taken by Mongolia to consolidate and strengthen that status (see NPT/CONF.2010/50 (Vol. I), para. 100).

After resuming contact and talks with the five nuclear-weapon States in 2011 and 2012 regarding its nuclear-weapon-free status, on 17 September 2012 Mongolia and the five States signed parallel declarations at United Nations Headquarters concerning security assurances. In its declaration, Mongolia, based on its legislation of 2000, not only reaffirmed the general prohibitions implemented pursuant to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons but also pledged not to station or transport nuclear weapons or parts or components of such weapons nor nuclear waste by any means through its territory and welcomed the pledges made by the five nuclear-weapon States in 2000 and on 17 September 2012.

In their joint declaration, the five nuclear-weapon States reaffirmed their intent to cooperate with Mongolia in implementing General Assembly resolution 53/77 D, reaffirmed also the assurances they had provided in the joint statement made in 2000 and, in addition, affirmed their intent, as long as Mongolia maintained its nuclear-weapon-free status, to respect that status and not to contribute to any act that would violate it.

The General Assembly of the United Nations was the first multilateral international organization to have welcomed Mongolia’s initiative and has, since 1998, been considering every second year the issue entitled “Mongolia’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status” and adopting resolutions thereon. In its first resolution on that issue, adopted in 1998, the Assembly welcomed the declaration by Mongolia of its nuclear-weapon-free status, while in subsequent resolutions it welcomed and expressed support for the measures taken by Mongolia to consolidate and strengthen that status.

Current activities

In June 2015, the Parliament of Mongolia adopted Resolution 60, aimed at strengthening further Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status. The resolution calls upon the Government to take robust action towards acceding to the 2005 amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management as well as the Small Quantities Protocol.

In 2017, Mongolia celebrated the 25th anniversary of its nuclear-weapon-free status. In September 2017, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of Mongolia exchanged congratulatory messages on the occasion.

In 2017 and 2018, a Mongolian non-governmental organization, Blue Banner, organized national and regional round-table discussions to contribute ideas on practical ways and means of further institutionalizing the status and shared its findings with the Government. The 2nd and 3rd meetings of the Ulaanbaatar Process were convened in Ulaanbaatar on 14-16 November 2016 and 29-30 August 2017 accordingly.

Due to its consistent efforts and the support of the international community, the nuclear-weapon-free status of Mongolia enjoys today wide international recognition. Although Mongolia has not been recognized as a nuclear-weapon-free zone, its unique status has been widely recognized as a contribution to nuclear non-proliferation and promoting regional confidence and predictability.

Currently Mongolia currently serves as the coordinator of the Fourth Conference of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones and Mongolia, originally planned for 24 April 2020, however postponed by the General Assembly to a period in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the 2018-2020 period Mongolia convened numerous informal preparatory meetings.