Kazakhstan’s Role in Nuclear Non-Proliferation Doctrine

by Sami Burgaz
air air pollution chimney clouds
Dr. Mehmood ul Hassan Khan

Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan has specialties in management, marketing, economics and governance. He has also master degree in Development with specialization in Diplomacy and Public Relations. He has also a rich experience in research, peace and conflict resolution and defence issues. His research and comprehensive articles have already been published in China, Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, USA, South Korea, UAE and Kuwait too.

He has great experience in the socio-economic, geo-politics and geo-strategic issues of Central Asia, Caucasus and Middle East. He is a famous expert on CIS and Caucasus in Pakistan. Member Board of Experts: CGSS, Islamabad. Ambassador at large at IHRFW.

Nuclear doctrine has been symbol of “devastation”, “deterrence” and military unnecessary “determination’ to gain more and more power superiority in the world.

It has been icon of “destruction” and ‘collateral damage” around the globe due to which prospects, propositions and partnerships of peace, prosperity and productivity has also been compromised. Essential budgetary allocations have been diverted to unending arms race in the different parts of the world.

However, the Republic of Kazakhstan took a “bold” step to denounce all its nuclear testing capabilities and initiated an “integrated’ and “holistic” approach to ban the military nuclear doctrine in 1991. It was a “paradigm shift” in its national history as well as the foreign policy which encouraged all the international community and power brokers to work jointly for the betterment of the entire humanity instead of swinging between two poles of international power politics.     

In this context, the Republic of Kazakhstan has been “instrumental” to realize the international community and power brokers to work jointly for achieving this world free of nuclear threats by “initiating”, “implementing” and “banning’ testing, stockpiling, processing and possession of nuclear arsenals since 1991.

It was first raised at the UN 45th session of the General Assembly in 1990. It changed the concepts of disbarment and security which had badly ruined the humanity at large and survival of mankind became difficult in many parts of the world. Ultimately, political commitment of Kazakhstan showed the “right path” of all international community to work jointly to make this world free of nuclear arsenals.    

August 29, 2021 is the 30th anniversary of nuclear ban treaty and the occasion of the International Day against Nuclear Tests, unanimously proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly at the initiative of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev which reaffirms its commitment to realizing a world free of nuclear testing and renew its resolve to achieve the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

H.E. Mr. Mukhtar Tileuberdi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan termed it historic decision of banning nuclear capabilities disseminated a strong political message and contributed to international efforts that led to the adoption of the CTBT in 1996. Since its adoption, Kazakhstan has consistently provided significant support for the CTBT and the build-up of its verification regime.

Moreover, 2021 also marks the 25th anniversary of the opening for signature of the CTBT. As a key pillar of the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime, the CTBT is an effective and practical measure to achieve a world without nuclear weapons. With 185 signatures and 170 ratifications, there has been much progress towards the universalization of the CTBT. Due to Kazakhstan’s sincere efforts adherence to the CTBT and the norm against nuclear testing has become virtually universal which is commendable.

Even the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) termed the termination of the activities of the test site of Semipalatinsk a major “milestone” in promoting the idea of a universal ban on nuclear tests. The closure of the Semipalatinsk test site advanced international efforts to establish a moratorium on nuclear tests around the world and the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia in 2006.

Historically, during the last 40 years of nuclear testing at the Semipalatinsk range, the total impact of the nuclear explosions in Kazakhstan exceeds the power of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb by 2,5000 times.

Moreover, prior to 1963 many of these tests were carried out in the open and created large, radioactive clouds that engulfed villages in the area, resulting in very high rates of cancer and other diseases. After 1963, the tests were conducted underground. Ultimately It produced an incalculable damage to the health of the people, to the environment and the economy of the nearby territories. 

In 1995, The Republic of Kazakhstan completed its voluntary renunciation of the world’s fourth most powerful nuclear missile arsenal, which it had inherited after the USSR’s breakup. This deadly legacy then surpassed the nuclear forces of France, Great Britain, and China combined.

Consequently, strong movement emerged in favour of the immediate “halting” of nuclear test and the closing of nuclear ranges. Kazakhstan was the birthplace of the powerful movement known as “Nevada- Semipalatinsk”.

After wards, “balance of terror” was replaced by a “balance of cooperation” and interaction task of ending nuclear testing assumes a global dimension towards the safety of humanity. It initiated spirits of mutual trust and banning of nuclear weapons. Kazakhstan immediately “discarded” its nuclear testing and the closing of testing ranges.

Kazakhstan’s first president H.E. Nursultan Nazarbayev promulgated a decree on August 29, 1991 and declared his country non-nuclear state and voluntary abandonment of the inherited 4th most powerful nuclear arsenal in the world. It started Kazakhstan’s accession to the Treaty of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

It demonstrates the tremendous economic, political, human and environment costs of nuclear testing and dangers associated with nuclear weapon program. It started Kazakhstan’s “national building” process. It further strengthened its socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic potentials and ties with the regional as well as international community and resultant were the massive and constant inflows of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), US$350 billion.

It widened its “outreach” of commercial diplomacy. It showcased its real potential of soft image at the international stage. It created “strategic cushion” to its massive structural reforms drive, industrialization, green energy persuasions, and formation of vibrant society, reliable administration, good governance and first giant step towards listening state.

Due to which August 29 has become an important date for Kazakhstan, the world community and the global anti-nuclear movement. Semipalatinsk nuclear testing site was the 2nd  most powerful in the world after the Nevada nuclear testing site.

The statistics data from the Ministry of Health of Kazakhstan (2020-2021) 1.5 million people were badly affected by consequences of nuclear weapons test at Semipalatinsk testing range and Semey and its environment. Semey had cancer rate of 263.3 people per 100,000 with a nation rate of 184.

During 1949 to 1989 456 nuclear tests, dozens of hydro-nuclear and hydro-dynamic test were conducted in birthplace of Abai. Kazakhstan became the first country in the world to close deadly nuclear test and voluntary discard its weapons of mass destruction.

The Republic of Kazaktan joined the Treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons as a non-nuclear state in 1996. Resultantly, it earned recognition in the world for an unprecedented act of closing a nuclear test site.  Due to which UN General Assembly on December 2, 2009 declared August 29 as the international day against nuclear test. The Presidential decree of the Kazakhstan on July 3, 2019 declared August 29 an important date of its national history.

In this regard, closing of Semipalatinsk nuclear testing site was a bold and “uncompromising’ decision of Nursultan Nazarbaye which inspired respect among the regional as well as international leaders because closing of Semipalatinsk nuclear testing site was a landmark event and marked the beginning of the development of the world anti-nuclear movement.

Moreover, on the initiation of H.E. Nursultan Nazarbaye the first President and father of the nation five Central Asian countries renounced the production, acquisition, testing and possession of nuclear weapon free zone. It was signed on September 8, 2006. It has now become one of the five regional nuclear weapon free zones located in Latin-America, South Pacific, South East Asia and Africa. Kazakhstan’s discarding of nuclear site has a “humanistic” mission comprising of freezing the planet from weapons of mass destruction and building a world free of nuclear weapons.

Kazakhstan has an international project “ATOM” proposed in 2012 which disseminated unique model of communication discipline to educate the world about spillover repercussions of nuclear weapons and guided to live peacefully by discarding all nuclear destructive weapons.

Kazakhstan has also established Low Enriched Uranium Bank (LUB) in the country which is the best practical way to implement its non-proliferation policy. It will allow other states to safely use the atom for the peaceful purposes.         

Kazakhstan also performed important work to rehabilitate its territory and adjacent areas and to ensure radiation safety and to restore the environment. It launched joint projects to eliminate proliferation threats and strengthening physical security with the cooperation of Russia, the U.S.A. since 2004.

Being prominent regional expert of Kazakhstan & CIS I really appreciate sincere efforts of Kazakhstan of promoting confidence building measures among international community and states especially on the issue of nuclear weapons during its non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2017-2018.  It actually reinvigorated constructive political dialogue and negotiations on nuclear weapons.

On the contrary, the unending arms race and the present expansion of nuclear weapons have serious ramifications which need to be ratified as soon as possible. Dawn of new technologies pertaining to warhead miniaturization to hypersonic missiles is changing the way states think about nuclear war. Unfortunately it has become a tool for global deterrence between superpowers and nuclear weapons are now viewed as tactical or regional assets.

There is an urgent need to establish and expand Nuclear Weapon Free Zones (NWFZs) in as many regions as possible. On its part, the Republic of Kazakhstan has ended nuclear weapons testing once and for all. It is a prime role model for other countries in the world and especially for the international community to achieve the strategic goal of nuclear free world through signature, full ratification, and compliance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) by the remaining eight states on whose action its entry into force depends. Without their unanimous support, the treaty is totally undermined.

The recent decision by the USA and Russian Federation to extend the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) has achieved substantial success although in bilateral terms but still it has its origin in Kazakhstan decree of 1991. Even Today, this policy is continued by President H.E. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who previously contributed to the cause of a future world free of nuclear weapons as foreign minister and as the secretary-general of the UN Conference for Disarmament.

Critical analysis of closure of the Semipalatinsk Test Site, a remote territory the size of New Jersey which was used by the Soviet Union for hundreds of nuclear tests between 1949 and 1989 revealed that it was a visionary step of Nursultan Nazarbayev which changed world’s concepts of security, national narrative and socio-economic prosperity. It was a new paradigm shift in ther arena of power politics which ultimately created new thinking, attitude and conduct towards nuclear weapons around the world, the grand transition from a policy of curbing the nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

To conclude August 29, 1991 was just the start of a historic period of denuclearization in Kazakhstan. It had comprehensive integrated policy measures which comprised of the secure transfer of hundreds of nuclear weapons to Russia, the shutdown of plutonium production facilities, the removal of hundreds of kilograms of highly enriched uranium, the re-employment of thousands of scientists, and the closure of many Soviet-era chemical, biological and nuclear facilities.

The Republic of Kazakhstan is the “pioneer” of nuclear disarmament and a vital party to the number of global agreements such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Nuclear Weapons.

Right from the beginning Kazakhstan is an staunch supporter for the CTBT, to support its entry into force and in connection to memorialisation of nuclear legacy, in 2012 the ATOM (Abolish Testing is Our Mission) project was launched.

Semipalatinsk nuclear testing site was also birthplace of Abai Qunanbaiuly the biggest “social reformer” of the region as well as the world. His teachings had universal orientations which refrained mankind to stay away from interfering into the nature, environment and spoiling of bio-diversity. His teachings were instrumental to build true, positive, productive and participatory ‘nationalism” in his people the real sons of the Kazakhstan’s soil.

Thus The Republic of Kazakhstan’s all efforts of discarding, banning and renouncing the nuclear weapons testing, capabilities, processing, stockpiling, and last but not least procession had a “divine connection” of Abai Qunanbaiuly who disseminated message of service to humanity, submission and sacrifice for the survival of mankind.

Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Asia Today.


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