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(RFE/RL) September 8, 2006 -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan today signed a UN-sponsored agreement creating a nuclear-weapons-free zone in Central Asia.


The signatories committed themselves not to produce, purchase, or deploy nuclear weapons or any component that could serve to develop such weapons on their territory.


The treaty also forbids third countries from transporting or storing nuclear weapons or materials on or through the territory of Central Asia.


Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev said that the signatories "hope that [the] treaty will provide an impulse to renew coordinated efforts by the international community to maintaining the [nuclear] nonproliferation regime and to prevent weapons of mass destruction from getting into the hands of terrorists."


The document was signed in the former Soviet nuclear test ground of Semipalatinsk, in northern Kazakhstan.


The ceremony coincides with the 15th anniversary of the closure of Semipalatinsk, where some 500 nuclear tests were conducted between 1949 and 1989.


(Kazakhstan Today, Interfax-Kazakhstan)

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