Today in New York on the margins of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee Meeting, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia signed the Protocol to the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone (CANWFZ) Treaty. The CANWFZ Treaty complements the NPT and enhances the international nonproliferation regime by prohibiting, among other things, the development and testing of nuclear weapons within Central Asia. Under the CANWFZ Treaty, the five Central Asian zone states may not allow the stationing of nuclear weapons within their territories. The Central Asian states are also required to adopt the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol, which provides the IAEA with expanded access and authorities to ensure that all nuclear activities are used only for peaceful purposes.
The United States is not eligible to be a party to the CANWFZ Treaty itself, but as an NPT nuclear weapons state is eligible to join the Treaty’s Protocol. The Protocol provides legally-binding assurances not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against CANWFZ Treaty parties. The United States understands the importance of such negative security assurances to states that have foresworn nuclear weapons and abide by their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.
The Administration is satisfied that the CANWFZ Treaty is consistent with U.S. and international criteria for such zones. The United States believes that such zones, when fully and rigorously implemented, contribute to our nonproliferation goals and to international peace and security. The United States has concluded that the CANWFZ Treaty and its Protocol will not disturb existing U.S. security arrangements or military operations, installations, or activities. The CANWFZ Treaty and its Protocol will also promote regional cooperation, security, and stability and provide a vehicle for the extension of legally-binding negative security assurances, consistent with the strengthened negative security assurance announced in the 2010 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review.
The United States previously signed similar protocols to the Treaties of Pelindaba and Rarotonga concerning nuclear-weapon-free zones in Africa and the South Pacific, respectively, and has ratified the protocols to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which established a nuclear-weapon-free zone for Latin America and the Caribbean. With respect to the nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty in force in Southeast Asia, the United States looks forward to continuing consultations with zone parties to explore possible U.S. support for signature and ratification of the applicable protocol.