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Mauritius, Diego Garcia and the small matter of nukes

Author name: 
Samuel Bashfield
Publisher: 
The Interpreter
Year: 
2020
Month: 
May
Abstract: 

Mauritius can’t have sovereignty over the Chagos and US nuclear weapons housed on Diego Garcia. Or can it?

By Samuel Bashfield

Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia is a key part of the US global military network. The dispute over sovereignty of Diego Garcia is heating up, with the UK coming under increasing pressure to cede it to Mauritius. Mauritius has indicated that if it regained control over Diego Garcia, it would allow the US base to continue. But would Mauritius’ obligations under the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (Pelindaba) Treaty, which would prohibit nuclear weapons on the territory, be a deal-breaker to a transfer of the islands?

The National Security College, with the support of the Department of Defence, is leading a two-year research project on Australia’s Indo-Pacific strategy in the Indian Ocean. As a part of this project, this paper analyses Mauritius’ obligations under the Pelindaba Treaty should it be ceded sovereignty of the Chagos Archipelago from the UK. This paper first appeared on the Lowy Institute’s ‘The Interpreter’ on 26 May 2020.

This publication originally appeared in The Interpreter.

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