Kazakhstan Says Denuclearization Is the Way to Go

The ever increasing international tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, coupled with the growing threat of international terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons, have again shown the world the importance of strengthening efforts for nuclear nonproliferation. In order to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, the world must learn from the experience of Kazakhstan, which has proven that the one path to true security and prosperity lies through nuclear disarmament and the promotion of peaceful relations with the world.

In the early 1990s, Kazakhstan inherited from the Soviet Union more than 1,000 nuclear warheads with yields equivalent to one megaton of TNT each. Kazakhstan then became the first country in the world to voluntarily renounce these deadly weapons, which at that time constituted the world’s fourth-largest nuclear arsenal, larger than those of Great Britain, France and China combined.

Despite urgings from some of Kazakhstan’s “well-wishers,

This was not the first bold anti-nuclear act by the Kazakh leader. Earlier, when the Soviet Union was still in place and despite threats from the Kremlin, he shut down the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in eastern Kazakhstan. During the four decades that the Semipalatinsk test site existed, it became the world's second-largest nuclear test site. The Soviets conducted more than 450 nuclear tests there, contaminating an area comparable in size to New Mexico and ruining the lives of 1.5 million people who lived there. President Nazarbayev’s decision, at that time, was comparable to the governor of Nevada ordering the shutdown of the U.S. nuclear test site in his state.

As current Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) put it last year, “Today, few know about President Nazarbayev’s heroic decision which undoubtedly changed the course of modern history. Few know this story because Kazakhstan did not bargain and did not lobby to gain political or economic dividends from its choice. Rather, Kazakhstan, for the sake of global peace and security, consciously chose to ensure a brighter future for their children and ours. For this reason, I believe we should speak more often of Kazakhstan’s example.

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