Last week, five former Soviet republics committed themselves to never acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, or testing nuclear weapons by signing a treaty to create a Central Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone. The nonpartisan, independent Arms Control Association (ACA) welcomed the move as a positive step forward in reinforcing a beleaguered nuclear nonproliferation regime and advancing the goal of nuclear disarmament…

Central Asia used to house part of the sprawling Soviet nuclear weapons complex. But now Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have broken with this nuclear past by signing the free zone pact at a former Soviet nuclear testing site, Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. Negotiations on the agreement started in 1997.

Despite being surrounded by nuclear-armed neighbors, these five states have courageously and correctly concluded that nuclear weapons are not necessary for their future security, declared ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball. All states clinging or aspiring to nuclear weapons should heed this principled example and take their own steps to revive the lackluster nuclear disarmament process, which is the only sure way of protecting all countries against nuclear terror, he urged.

The Central Asian zone will be the fifth such arrangement. Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific (Treaty of Rarotonga), Southeast Asia (Treaty of Bangkok), and Africa (Treaty of Pelindaba) have also banded together to create nuclear-weapon-free zones. Mongolia has also outlawed nuclear weapons on its territory and all countries are prohibited from stationing nuclear weapons in Antarctica, on the seabed, and in outer space.

(Thanks to my Italian friend Sergio Tripi and his Good News Agency for all the great news in this month’s newsletter)

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