CANWFZ Treaty signed to recognize Central Asia as Nuke-Free Zone
Five recognized nuclear weapon states- China, France, Russia, UK and USA inked the Protocol to the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone (CANWFZ) Treaty in New York, marking a major positive development in the global non-proliferation efforts. The treaty was signed on the sidelines of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee Meeting at the United Nations.
The CANWFZ Treaty was inked on September 8, 2006 in Semipalatinsk by the five Central Asian nations – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It came into force on March 21, 2009. As chair of the CANWFZ Treaty, Kazakhstan has steered the negotiations with the five nuclear states on behalf of its Central Asian neighbors.
Central-Asian parties to the CANWFZ treaty aim to make the region a nuclear-weapon free zone. For the zone to be recognized internationally, it also requires to get the so-called negative guarantees from the five nuclear weapon countries, meaning legally-binding assurances not to use nuclear weapons against the parties of the treaty and not to use the threat of the use of nuclear weapons against them. The Protocol signed on May 6, 2014 in New York provides all these guarantees. The Protocol awaits ratification by the parliaments of the signing states enter into effect.
The CANWFZ Treaty complements the NPT and strengthens the international nonproliferation regime by forbidding, among other things, the development and testing of nuclear weapons within Central Asia. Under the CANWFZ Treaty, the five Central Asian zone states may not allow the stationing of nuclear weapons within their territories. The Central Asian states are also mandated to adopt the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol, which provides the IAEA with increased access and power to ensure that all nuclear activities are used only for peaceful purposes.
Other Nuclear-Weapons Free Zones in the World
Apart from the newly created Central-Asian zone, there are four other nuclear weapons free zones in the world, including in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, South-East Asia and the South Pacific. The Central Asian zone is different from the other four in a way that it is the only such zone fully located in the northern hemisphere, the only zone adjoining two nuclear weapon states, Russia and China, and the only zone where nuclear weapons once existed, until Kazakhstan relinquished the weapons it inherited from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.