Indonesia’s Warning: Nuclear Weapons Pose an Imminent Catastrophe for Southeast Asia

**Southeast Asia “One Miscalculation Away from Apocalypse” – Indonesian Foreign Minister Urges Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons**

Indonesian Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, has issued a stark warning about the imminent threat posed by nuclear weapons in Southeast Asia. Speaking ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, Marsudi emphasized that the region is “one miscalculation away from apocalypse” and called on world powers to sign a treaty to ensure the region remains free from such weapons. However, Marsudi expressed concern that none of the world’s leading nuclear powers have agreed to sign the treaty, highlighting the urgent need for renewed efforts to convince them to do so.

**ASEAN Summit Highlights Myanmar Crisis, South China Sea Tensions, and Economic Challenges**

The ASEAN summit, set to take place over two days in Jakarta, will address several pressing issues, including Myanmar’s civil strife, tensions in the South China Sea, and the economic challenges faced by the region. The ongoing crisis in Myanmar, which has claimed the lives of thousands of civilians and led to mass arrests, has attracted international attention and pressure for ASEAN to intervene. Myanmar’s military government has disregarded ASEAN’s plan for resolving the crisis, prompting the organization to ban Myanmar’s generals from attending the summit.

**Calls for Nuclear Powers to Sign the Treaty**

In 1995, ASEAN states signed a treaty declaring their commitment to creating a nuclear weapon-free zone in Southeast Asia. However, Marsudi highlighted the concerning fact that none of the world’s leading nuclear powers have joined the pact. She stressed the urgency of the situation, stating that “the threat is imminent,” and called for global powers to take immediate action to prevent a potential catastrophe. Marsudi urged ASEAN members to make renewed efforts to convince these states to sign the treaty, highlighting the importance of a collective commitment to nuclear disarmament.

**Draft Communique Hints at Prospect of a Nuclear Weapons State Signing the Treaty**

A draft communique, obtained by The Associated Press, is expected to mention the possibility of a nuclear weapons state signing the treaty. However, the communique states that the state must provide written assurances that they are ratifying the treaty without any reservations. While the communique does not explicitly name the prospective state, anonymous Southeast Asian diplomats attending the summit have indicated that it is China.

**Myanmar’s Exclusion from ASEAN Summit**

Given the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, the country’s military leaders have been excluded from the summit. ASEAN has faced international pressure to address the situation in Myanmar since the military seized power in February 2021, leading to widespread violence and chaos. The bloc’s plan, which calls for an immediate end to the violence, has been largely ignored by Myanmar’s military government. In response, ASEAN has taken the unprecedented step of banning Myanmar’s military leaders from its top-level gatherings, including foreign ministerial meetings.

**Divisions Among ASEAN Members Regarding Myanmar Crisis**

ASEAN members appear divided on how to handle the Myanmar crisis. While some like Thailand recommend easing punitive actions against Myanmar’s generals, others advocate for maintaining isolation and not inviting military-appointed diplomats to high-profile meetings. Indonesia, as the current chair of ASEAN, has taken a proactive approach to the crisis, conducting numerous meetings with groups in Myanmar and providing humanitarian aid to build trust.

**Tensions in the South China Sea**

The dispute over territorial claims in the South China Sea continues to be a significant issue for ASEAN. Several ASEAN members, including Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, have longstanding conflicts with China and Taiwan over territories in the region. ASEAN and China have been negotiating a non-aggression pact to prevent further escalation of disputes, but the talks have faced significant delays. The disputed waters have become a focal point of rivalry between China and the United States, with the U.S. challenging China’s territorial claims and conducting regular military patrols that have drawn criticism from Beijing.

In conclusion, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi’s warning about the threat posed by nuclear weapons in Southeast Asia underscores the urgency for global powers to sign a treaty to prohibit nuclear arms in the region. The ongoing crisis in Myanmar and tensions in the South China Sea add further complexity to the ASEAN summit’s agenda. As the summit unfolds, it remains to be seen how ASEAN members will navigate these challenges and work towards ensuring peace, stability, and disarmament in the region.

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