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Indonesia warns of threat posed by nuclear weapons

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (AP) – Indonesia’s top diplomat warned yesterday of the threat posed by nuclear weapons, saying that Southeast Asia is “one miscalculation away from apocalypse” and pressing for world powers to sign a treaty to keep the region free from such arms. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi raised the alarm ahead of a two-day summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (asean), which started later yesterday in Jakarta.

“We cannot be truly safe with nuclear weapons in our region,” Marsudi told fellow ASEAN ministers. “With nuclear weapons, we are only one miscalculation away from apocalypse and global catastrophe.”

In 1995, ASEAN member states signed a treaty that declared Southeast Asia’s commitment to be a nuclear weapon-free zone, one of five in the world. However, Marsudi lamented that none of the world’s leading nuclear powers have signed on to the pact and called for renewed efforts to convince those states to sign up.

“The threat is imminent, so we can no longer play a waiting game,” she said.

A draft communique expected today mentions the possibility of a first nuclear weapons state finally signing the treaty but says that there would have to be written assurances that the treaty was being ratified “without reservations”. A copy of the draft was obtained by The Associated Press.

At the summit, ASEAN foreign ministers are expected to renew a call for self-restraint in “activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability”, according to the draft communiqué.

Minister of Foreign Affairs II Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof in a group photo with ASEAN counterparts. PHOTO: AP