Dushanbe meeting on Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in Central Asia

On October 17-18, 2006 the international conference “Cooperation of NGOs in the CSTO Member-States in Strengthening Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime and Realization of the Concept of Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in Central Asia” took place in Dushanbe.

Among conference participants were Secretary General of the Pugwash Conferences Prof. Paolo Cotta-Ramusino, member of the Pugwash Council Prof. Alexander Nikitin, and Prof. Jozef Goldblat (UNIDIR).

Below report by Mikhail Lebedev, Russian Pugwash Group

The initiative to hold this representative forum was put forward by Federation for Peace and Conciliation (IFPC) – an international nongovernmental organization enjoying a consultative status at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOS) and a participatory status at the Council of Europe – in cooperation with the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s (CSTO) Secretariat and nongovernmental organizations of the Republic of Tajikistan.

Scientists and experts from the Central Asian countries, Russia, Afghanistan, India, Iran, Pakistan, heads of international organizations – the CSTO, IFPC and its member organizations, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, the UN system, research and public organizations of Tajikistan took part in the conference work. The participants discussed a series of urgent issues of providing international security and stability in the Asian region, interaction between the international intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental structures and civil society in the security sphere. The problem of creating a nuclear-free zone in Central Asia was put separately on the agenda.

The conference participants emphasized that the discussion of the nuclear non-proliferation regime’s strengthening and the realization of the Central Asian nuclear-free zone concept was gaining particular importance in view of the negative trends that had formed in the world in the last few years. In this regard the participants expressed their deep concern upon the actions of North Korea, which, as is known, stated the conduction of nuclear test on October 9, 2006. The participants urged international structures and states to undertake all the possible political and diplomatic efforts to normalize the situation with the Korean peninsula and to prevent the violation of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

The creation of the nuclear-free zone in Central Asia should promote to establish mutually favorable and confidential relations in the whole Asia. This international legal act which is being of crucial importance for the region should undoubtfully stimulate the international cooperation in the sphere of peaceful uses of the atomic energy with the participation of all the Central Asian states.

The participants welcomed the creation of the nuclear-free zone in Central Asia. They spoke in favor of the soonest ratification of the corresponding Agreement by the member-states, and claimed that five nuclear powers should show respect for its status and provide absolute support and guarantees of the concept. In this respect they also claimed that the assistance from the international organizations such as the UN, NATO, the CIS, the CSTO, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Central Asian countries’ neighbor-states is needed.

It was noted that the international peacekeeping movement is to play an important part in this process as it has the possibility to fix the nuclear-free status of the region in the UN and as the movement is called to promote the establishment of the confidential climate in the region.

The participants welcome the efforts of the Tajik scientists aimed at the creation of the radiation and seismic monitoring system on the territory of Tajikistan.

Having discussed all the set of issues of nuclear non-proliferation and the situation in the nuclear disarmament sphere the conference participants urge the nuclear powers to activate the negotiations process for the reduction of their nuclear arsenals, prevention the improvement of and creation of new types of nuclear weapons.

The conference participants point out with satisfaction and welcome the active line of the Collective Security Treaty Organization directed at the security and stability strengthening in the Central Asian region and find it necessary to develop further cooperation with the CSTO and other international organizations working in the region.