As the threat of a new arms race becomes increasingly likely amid worsening relations between the East and West, Thomas Markram, Director and Deputy to the UN High-level Representative for Disarmament Affairs said while in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan on 28 August that “nuclear-free zones have enormous potential to strengthen global non—proliferation and disarmament, while acting as a powerful platform to advance the common interests of all states” who may be affected by the spread of non-conventional weapons.
“We have the long–term objective to renewing inter-sessional activities between all zone and to create a sustained platform to share practices, exchange ideas, and deepen cooperation,” said Markram while outlining his vision for what he called “interzonal cooperation”.
The is currently no institutional process to ensure comprehensive and sustainable zonal cooperation and coordination when it comes to monitoring nuclear non-proliferation, including a mechanism to fully implement treaties and objectives or to exchange relevant ideas or best practices.
“The absence of sustained communication and regular joint activities undermines the development of a collective potential of nuclear weapons-free-zones. The primary goal…is, to address the exiting challenges and discuss ways to improve coordination and achieve a more robust form of interzonal cooperation,” added Markram.
Speaking just a day before the UN declared International Day Against Nuclear Tests, Markram said Kazakhstan – a country that was the centre for Soviet nuclear test and was subjected to countless above-ground nuclear detonations at Semipalatinsk, one of the world’s most highly radioactive sites and voluntarily gave up the 1,400 nuclear warheads it inherited following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 – has been one of the most tireless supporters of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. As a result, Kazakhstan continues to organise summits for nuclear-free zones and remains one of the most committed nations to the issue of nuclear disarmament.
High-ranking representatives of international organisations, experts, and five of the world’s nuclear-armed countries, who are also signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty – the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France – were in attendance at the summit in Nur-Sultan.
Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea, all of whom possess large nuclear arsenal but are have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, were not in attendance.