UNITED NATIONS, March 20 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon welcomed on Friday the entry into force of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia.
Opened for signature on Sept. 8, 2006, the treaty has been ratified by all five Central Asian countries, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and will enter into force on March 21, 2009.
"This will be the first nuclear-weapon-free zone to be established in the northern hemisphere and will also encompass an area where nuclear weapons previously existed," Ban said in a statement issued by his press office.
"It will also be the first nuclear-weapon-free zone that requires its parties to conclude with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and bring into force an Additional Protocol to their Safeguards Agreements with IAEA within 18 months after the entry into force of the Treaty, and to comply fully with the provisions of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)," he said.
The secretary-general urged the states concerned to address any outstanding issues in order to ensure the treaty's effective implementation.
Ban expressed the belief that the entry into force of the treaty will reinforce efforts to "strengthen the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, underline the strategic and moral value of nuclear-weapon-free zones, as well as the possibilities for greater progress on a range of issues in the pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons."