The Regional seminar named Strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime: topics of expert discussions held in Bishkek
A Regional seminar on Strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime was held in Bishkek on September 6−8. The seminar was organized by the Center for Energy and Security Studies and the Evgeniy Primakov Center for International Cooperation with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic.
The event was timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the process launch to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia. The according treaty was signed in 2006 in Semipalatinsk (Kazakhstan) and entered into force in 2009. The Kyrgyz Republic is the depositary of this document.
The seminar was attended by representatives of foreign policy institutions of Russia and the countries of the region, research centers, non-profit agencies, as well as staff-members and heads of international organizations. Experts to Bishkek were sent by: the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO PrepCom), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), and Rusatom International Network.
The first working day
The first working day of the program was devoted to the challenges to the nuclear non-proliferation regime and arms control system in the context of the transformation of the world order. In his speech, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Ryabkov emphasized the interconnection between international security and the arms control regime,
"It is clear that progress towards nuclear disarmament and nuclear arms control cannot be carried out in isolation from the international security situation as well as the military and strategic context. These are interrelated processes and moving forward on the mentioned tracks is impossible without the creation of favorable conditions that would ensure the maintenance of peace and stability during the reduction of nuclear weapons, as well as without respecting the principle of undiminished security for all."
Deepayan Basu Ray, Director of the UN Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, also noted the today’s challenges affecting the arms control architecture and non-proliferation regime,
"The nuclear threat is now perceived more acutely than it was during the Cold War. Сomplete disarmament and the destruction of nuclear weapons stockpiles is the only way to keep us safe from the looming threat. Moderate rhetoric in the international arena, however, could also be a way to reduce tensions."
The speech by a guest of honor, Robert Floyd, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization took a special place in the program of the first day. He touched on the role of the Treaty in hindsight and noted its importance at the present stage and in the future. After his speech, Dr. Floyd shared his thoughts on the prospects for the Treaty’s entry into force with Kommersant’s special correspondent Elena Chernenko.

During the plenary session on the Iranian nuclear program and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), experts assessed the prospects for resuming negotiations on this track and the likelihood of a new agreement.
A special plenary session was devoted to the topic of involving young specialists into the field of nuclear non-proliferation. The audience was addressed by representatives of Russian higher education institutions with relevant areas of training, heads of non-profit organizations, and current employees of international organizations, who shared their practices and experience in engaging young people through fellowships and exchange programs, as well as talked about career opportunities in this area.

The second working day
The second working day of the program was dedicated to the anniversary of the Central Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (CANWFZ). The participants discussed the exchange of experience with NWFZs from other regions of the world and took the peculiarities of the Central Asian NWFZ Treaty into account. They touched on prospects of nuclear power in the region and territory remediation projects of the Central Asian region affected by uranium ore mining.
In his address to the seminar participants, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Kyrgyz Republic Rapil Zhoshybaev noted that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are among the top priorities of the country’s foreign policy. The Ambassador also emphasized the importance of collective efforts to reduce nuclear risks and achieve the ultimate goal defined by Article 6 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which is general and complete disarmament.

The role of green energy in mitigating climate change and the prospects for the development of nuclear energy in Central Asia were analyzed during the relevant panel discussion. Huang Wei, Director of the Division of Planning, Information and Knowledge Management in the Department of Nuclear Energy, IAEA, made a presentation on the specifics of the "green transition" and the role of nuclear power.
Expert's opinion
The expert stated that the IAEA is actively engaged in tackling climate change issues and closely cooperates with other specialized UN agencies in this area. Mr. Wei mentioned the importance of maintaining the current pace of nuclear development, which is part of the solution to the problem of air emissions, as well as the goal to reduce them to net zero in the long term.
Anton Khlopkov, Director of the Center for Energy and Security Studies, drew the audience’s attention to the fact that the provisions of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (CANWFZ) Treaty of 2006 could serve as an additional factor for the development of peaceful nuclear energy in the region.

Experts say that the regional states do have experience in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, as well as relevant expertise which allows to facilitate the implementation of new projects, including the construction of nuclear power plants in the future.
"The preamble of the Treaty notes that the NWFZ represents an important step towards strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and promoting cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which emphasizes the importance of cooperation in the field of atom for peace."
Territory remediation and exchange of experience among Central Asian states in dealing with the consequences of uranium ore mining is an important task for the actors concerned. Thus, resolving issues of past "explosive activities" is among the priority tasks for the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan on the nuclear track.

At the conclusion of the second working day, the experts summarized the results of the meeting, noting the importance to continue the exchange of views on nuclear non-proliferation and arms control issues among representatives of international organizations, academic communities, higher education institutions, and with the participation of young experts. A reception was held at the end of the regional seminar, where participants were able to continue the discussion and exchange views in an informal setting.