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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 18, September 1997

Central Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Conference

Statement by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, delivered by Vladimir Petrovsky, Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva, Conference on 'Central Asia - Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone,' Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 14-16 September 1997; United Nations Press Release SG/SM/6326, 15 September

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"I am pleased to convey a message to the participants in this important international conference.

The idea of establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones around the world has gained momentum. The principle of denuclearization has been applied successfully in Latin America and the Caribbean, where earlier this year the Treaty of Tlatelolco celebrated its thirtieth anniversary; in the South Pacific, with the Treaty of Rarotonga; in South-East Asia, with the Treaty of Bangkok; and with the Treaty of Pelindaba covering all of Africa.

More than 100 United Nations Member States are parties to these agreements. With Antarctica included, they form a nuclear-weapon-free mantle over a vast, densely populated area of the southern hemisphere.

Notwithstanding the fact that each of these zones and agreements has its own regional characteristics and concerns, their experience and example will serve as guideposts for the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in other parts of the world. I encourage such efforts, which are now under way. Additional nuclear-weapon-free zones, if agreed to by the States of the region and other concerned States, would be a boon to regional security cooperation, would contribute to non-proliferation and disarmament and would represent a further step in the direction of a nuclear-free world.

I am aware that governments in Central Asia, guided by their desire for political interaction and cooperation, have begun efforts to promote the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in this region. In this connection, I welcome the initiatives that led to the signing of the Almaty Declaration.

The elimination of nuclear weapons, a goal shared by all humanity, is a feasible long-rang objective. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) represents the single most important effort of the international community in this direction. The indefinite extension of the NPT, and last year's adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), have strengthened considerably the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Still, uncertainties and serious challenges remain, in both the nuclear and conventional fields, and a new international security agenda must be agreed that takes account of our rapidly changing world. Towards these ends, I offer you my best wishes for the success of your deliberations."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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