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The Falklands/Malvinas War and Latin America's Nuclear Weapons Free Zone

During the 1982 Malvinas/Falklands War and in its aftermath, Argentina accused Great Britain of violating Latin America’s nuclear weapon free zone (NWFZ) by militarily deploying nuclear propelled submarines to the demarcated geographic area and by entering the zone with ships carrying nuclear weapons, possibly with the intent of using them in the War. This working paper examines the unprecedented role played by OPANAL, the nonproliferation agency charged with upholding the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco that established Latin America as the first NWFZ in an inhabited region of the world, in addressing the first accusations of a militaristic violation of a NWFZ in history. Utilizing primary source materials from OPANAL, this NPIHP working paper finds that even a weakened regional nonproliferation agency like OPANAL can play an important role in the aftermath of a perceived nuclear threat from an extra-regional state. The paper includes a look at how OPANAL’s experience can be applied to Africa’s NWFZ and a potential NWFZ in the Middle East.  

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About the Author

Ryan Alexander Musto

Ryan Alexander Musto

MacArthur Nuclear Security Fellow, Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), Stanford University   
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