17 September 2006
Celebrating the I5th anniversary of the ending
of nuclear testing at the Kazakh city of
By signing the treaty, the states of
The parties to the treaty, on the other hand,
represents a model contrary to that represented by Iran and North Korea, both
of which have been acting irresponsibly by refusing to halt their nuclear
programmes. By voluntarily giving up the ambition of joining the nuclear club, the five Central
Asian nations have proved that they are more concerned about peaceful
coexistence and regional and global stability than
Like any nuclear weapon-free zone treaty, the CANWFZ treaty requires the world’s five officially recognized nuclear powers to sign an accompanying protocol pledging to respect the pact and not to attack or threaten signatories with nuclear weapons. While Russia and China have given their full blessing and support to the treaty, the US, Britain, and France have expressed their disagreement on the pretext of a loophole in the treaty, which could allow Russia to transport or even deploy nuclear weapons across the five states under provisions of an older security agreement, namely the 1992 Tashkent Collective Security Treaty (TCST).
It must be remembered that negotiations over the
creation of a CANWFZ, which was first proposed by Uzbek President Islam Karimov at the 48th session of the UN General Assembly in 1993,
have largely been influenced by regional and global developments, rivalry among
the five Central Asian states and their different approaches to relations with
Russia, and ambiguous positions of the five nuclear powers. With the terrorist
attacks in the
The original text of the draft, therefore, has been amended several times between 2002 and 2005 in order to meet all concerns voiced by the five nuclear powers and consequently win their endorsement to the treaty. In fact, the Central Asian republics tried their best in this regard, bearing in mind that some of these powers had refused to sign the protocols to the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon-free Zone treaty on the grounds that its terms could be interpreted as interfering with freedom of the seas.
This explains why the establishment of the
CANWFZ has taken so long. It also explains the ambiguous language in the
treaty, which has provoked the Western nuclear powers’ dissatisfaction.
Regardless of such an argument, the establishment of the CANWFZ is a very important step towards making our planet safer and must not be blocked by any power. It should rather be welcomed and supported, especially at this time when radical regimes and terrorist groups’ appetite for the possession of nuclear weapons is on the increase.
*Academic researcher and lecturer on Asian affairs