Commentary of the Pugwash Committee of Kazakhstan on the message of the Pugwash Movement of Scientists on July 9, 2020

Kazakhstan Policy in Disarmament and Non-proliferation of Weapon of Mass Destruction

Russel-Einstein Manifesto had initiated The Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs, committed to peace, disarmament, international security, prevention of world nuclear war and supporting scientific cooperation. Although 65 years have passed, the Manifesto still appears to be relevant.

Kazakhstan policy in disarmament and non-proliferation of weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is determined by Kazakhstan’s foreign policy course defined by the First President, Mr. Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev. The policy is based on commitment to strengthening international security, development of cooperation among states, increasing of international organizations’ role in management of issues and conflicts.

The period of early 90th last century has become landmark for the history of Kazakhstan. Two the most important events for the country and international community highlighted the time – independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan and closure of Semipalatinsk nuclear test site (STS). For 40 years from 1949 to 1991, 456 tests of all kind of nuclear weapon were carried out at the testing site area, resulted in radiation contamination of large territory. The testing site area was 18 300 sq. km, that was equal to the area of states like Israel or Slovenia. On August 29, 1991 Decree of Kazakhstan President, Nursultan Nazarbayev closed the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site.

The significance of the date when Semipalatinsk test site was closed either for Kazakhstan or for the whole world is confirmed by unanimous announcement of August 29 as the International day against nuclear tests made by UN General Assembly in December 2009.

After the collapse of Soviet Union, independent Kazakhstan inherited significant amount of nuclear weapon – strategic missiles with warfare weapon, long-range bombers and suitable nuclear and thermonuclear warheads. As of early 1991, Kazakhstan territory had huge arsenal of weapon of mass destruction including 1216 nuclear warheads for intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads for heavy bombers.

Besides, there was significant amount of enriched uranium at the territory of Kazakhstan after the collapse of Soviet Union, suitable for use in creation of nuclear bomb. The amount was enough for over tens of nuclear bombs. Later, with special agreement between the Republic of Kazakhstan and USA under “Sapphire” project, the highly enriched uranium was transported to America.

Recognizing the global responsibility before the world, Kazakhstan represented by the First President, N.A. Nazarbayev, renounced the nuclear arsenal, making a historical choice, which determined further strategy of the Republic related to global security. Since the moment, maintaining and strengthening of weapon of mass destruction non-proliferation regime has become of top priority in foreign and domestic policy of Kazakhstan.

Republic of Kazakhstan consistently implements harmonized and responsible policy aimed at achievement nuclear-weapon-free world, enhancing its reputation of a leader in nuclear disarmament. Kazakhstan was among the first CIS states, which joined Nuclear Weapon Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Central Asia, after the Treaty was signed by five states, have been announced a nuclear-weapon-free zone. This was the first nuclear-free zone created in the Northern hemisphere in the region where used to exist and been tested powerful nuclear weapon.

UN adoption of Universal Declaration for the Achievement of Nuclear-Weapons-Free World initiated by Kazakhstan was another step toward establishing Global anti-nuclear movement. The endorsement of the declaration reaffirmed the recognition of, and demonstrated support by the international community for the contribution of the Republic to reduction of nuclear weapon, strengthening of global stability and security.

The decision to establish IAEA Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank at the territory of Kazakhstan was the recognition of the Republic of Kazakhstan as a reliable partner committed to the non-proliferation strengthening, having huge experience in nuclear material management. The Bank is a supply mechanism of LEU to IAEA member states, in the event of disruption in existing fuel supply market.

Kazakhstan, having abandoned nuclear weapon, defined itself as a strong and fervent supporter to establishing nuclear weapon-free world. Having huge experience in non-proliferation, the Republic demonstrates successful examples of international cooperation to other states. Large-scale activity on elimination of infrastructure and nuclear tests consequences, conversion of the former STS military and industrial complex to peaceful purposes, results of scientific and technical cooperation in safety of nuclear power, as well as other efforts are the great achievement of Kazakhstan in building safer world, evidence of outstanding and unique contribution of Kazakhstan to non-proliferation, demonstrated either in active anti-nuclear position of the state or definite actions. Kazakhstan, having voluntarily renounced world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal, was, is and will remain a reliable partner of international community in non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful use of atomic energy.