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At UN For Nuclear Free Central Asia, P5 Pose & Sign, UK Takes Reservation

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 6 -- As rhetoric on Ukraine and Syria heats up, recently at the US State Department's daily press briefing reporters have increasingly asked if the US and Russia, or the wider "P5" with China, can work together on anything.

  Often the answer given is Syria chemical weapon, drawing scorn from reporters. On May 6 in a windowless UN conference room, representatives of each of the Permanent Five members of the UN Security Council posed for photographs then sat in a row signing a protocol for a nuclear free zone in Central Asia.

Each representative gave a speech in his native language -- it was all men -- and Russia and the UK back to back cited the Treaties of Tlatelolco, Rarotonga and Pelindaba. Ambassador Liu Jieyi said "China supports the efforts of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to establish a nuclear free zone."

Russia's Vitaly Churkin said, "It remains only to ratify the document. We look forward to doing it as swiftly as possible."

Tom Countryman of the US said he was pleased to be able to sign here in New York during the Preparatory Committee meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The UK added that it "has issued a declaration that sets out our legal interpretation of certain elements within the Protocol and Treaty.... in order that there is no doubt about the conditions under which the UK would not consider itself bound by Article I of this Protocol: notably, if any of the Parties to that Treaty allowed nuclear weapons to be stationed in their territory."

Some might find an echo into protests raised in South America to UK vessels with nuclear weapons visiting the Falkland / Malvinas Islands.

The last speaker was Ambassador Muzaffar Madrakhimov of Uzbekistan, who said "the initiatve to create the Central Asian Nuclear Free Weapons Zone was first announced by the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov at the 48th session of the General Assembly in 1993."

Now if only the region's water wars could be solved... Watch this site.


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