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Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Established in Central Asia

(Mar. 23) -The Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone took effect Saturday (Image courtesy of James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies). (Mar. 23) -The Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone took effect Saturday (Image courtesy of James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies).

A nuclear-weapon-free zone covering the five Central Asian nations entered into force on Saturday, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, Dec. 11, 2008).

U.N. Secretary General Ban Kim-moon "welcomes the entry into force of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia," according to a statement from spokeswoman Michele Montas (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, March 20).

Kazakhstan, which once possessed the world's fourth-largest nuclear stockpile, signed the pact along with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The agreement prohibits the nations from researching, developing, producing or keeping nuclear weapons. It also mandates that each nation must follow the requirements of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and ratify the Additional Protocol to its nuclear safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations said (see GSN, Feb. 19).

"To ensure the effective implementation of the treaty, the secretary general would like to urge the states concerned to address any outstanding issues that may affect its operation," according to the statement from Ban.

Nuclear-weapon-free zones have already been established covering Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia and Africa.

"The secretary general trusts that the entry into force of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia will reinforce efforts to strengthen the global nuclear nonproliferation regime, underline the strategic and moral value of nuclear-weapon-free zones, as well as the possibilities for greater progress on a range of issues in the pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons," Ban's statement says (U.N. release, March 20).

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