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Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Semipalatinsk) 


General Provisions

Current Status

Treaty Text

References and Links

General Provisions
The Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (CANWFZ) Treaty—also known as the Treaty of Semipalatinsk—includes the former Soviet Republic states:  Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.  The Treaty bans the conduct of research on, development, manufacture, acquisition, or otherwise possession of any nuclear explosive device.  It prohibits the disposal of radioactive waste within the CANWFZ territory and stipulates that no state party perform a nuclear explosion of any kind, in accordance with the CTBT.  The Treaty also addresses environmental concerns unique to the region.  It requires each party to “assist any efforts toward the environmental rehabilitation of territories contaminated as a result of past activities related to the development, production or storage of nuclear weapons.”  In addition, each party must conclude an agreement with the IAEA for application of its safeguards to the state’s nuclear activities.

Similar to the Treaty of Pelindaba, the Treaty of Semipalatinsk obligates states to uphold international standards concerning the protection of its nuclear materials and facilities to prevent theft.  The Treaty also respects the right of each party to remain free to decide for itself whether to allow visits by foreign vessels and aircrafts to its ports and airfields.

The Treaty contains one protocol, which commits NPT-designated nuclear weapon states (NWS) to a pledge not to use or threaten to use a nuclear explosive device against any party to the region.

Current Status
On September, 8, 2006, all five states in Central Asia signed the Treaty of Semipalatinsk. It entered into force on March 21, 2009, following the ratification of the fifth state, Kazakhstan.  Though none of the NWS have signed or ratified the Treaty’s protocols, Russia and China have publically declared their support for the CANWFZ.  Recently, both countries supported a UN General Assembly resolution endorsing the Treaty.  However, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France have routinely expressed concern over the Treaty’s language.  Specifically, they oppose Article 12, which states that the Treaty “does not affect the rights and obligations of the Parties under other international treaties.”  The United States, United Kingdom, and France’s main argument is that the Commonwealth of Independent States Collective Security Treaty conflicts with the Treaty of Bangkok.  Most troubling is that under the Collective Security Treaty, Russia could possibly deploy nuclear weapons in Central Asia (Potter, 2008, as cited in Webb, 2008).

Some progress has been made on the issue though.  On May 3, 2010 Secretary of State Clinton announced that “the Obama administration is also prepared to consult with countries in Central and Southeast Asia to reach an agreement to seek ratification for protocols to establish those regions as nuclear weapons-free zones” (Clinton, 2010, as cited in Kaufman, 2010).

References and Links
Central Asia: Towards a Nuclear-Free World. (2006, September 8). International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Retrieved June, from

Kaufman, S. (2010, May 03). New U.S. Support for Nuclear Weapons-Free Zones and Energy Use. Retrieved from

Potter, W. C., Loukianova, A., & Kassenova, T. (2008, December 11). Central Asia Becomes A Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone. James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). Retrieved from

Treaty of Semipalatinsk. (2010, January 14). Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zones. Retrieved from

Webb, G. (2008, December 11). Central Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Clears Final Hurdle. NTI - Global Security Newswire. Retrieved from