ASTANA – Kazakhstan calls on all countries to work to strengthen the global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament regime and to reaffirm their commitments to key treaties in this area, and says it is ready to work with partners on developing a convention prohibiting nuclear weapons, the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Feb. 17.
The statement was issued to mark the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s accession to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapons state. It was at the White House on Feb. 14, 1994, that President Nursultan Nazarbayev presented the country’s NPT ratification document to U.S. President Bill Clinton, one of the depositaries of the treaty.
The NPT entered into force in 1970 and is considered the cornerstone of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Yet not all of the commitments of the treaty, which was extended indefinitely in 1995, have been fulfilled, including the obligations of the five recognised nuclear weapon states – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – to disarm their nuclear arsenals. Additionally, four countries critical to the nonproliferation regime remain outside the treaty – India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel. The first three are known to have nuclear weapons, while Israel is believed to have them, although it has never recognised nor rejected statements to that effect.
“In order to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, Kazakhstan calls upon all states parties to reaffirm their commitment to the NPT and to their commitments under the Treaty, to the decisions of the NPT Review Conference and to practically implement the agreements, as well as to ensure the universality of the Treaty,” the Foreign Ministry in Astana said in its Feb. 17 statement.
“Strengthening international nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation and its basis – the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons – has been one of the priorities of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy,” the ministry said. “The threat of nuclear proliferation, as well as of materials and technologies required to create it, especially in the face of the rising terrorist threat, is one of the most serious threats to international security.”
Calling the NPT “a time-tested most important international instrument providing global and regional stability,” the ministry said, “it is important to achieve an effective and balanced implementation of the treaty in line with its three components: nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation and cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy.”
Kazakhstan is actively involved in international efforts to build a world free of nuclear weapons and ensure nuclear safety. “During the 20 years of participation in the NPT, our country through practical actions has made a significant contribution to achieving the objectives of the treaty,” the ministry noted.
It listed concrete steps such as the closing of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in August 1991, the withdrawal of the world’s fourth largest nuclear weapons arsenal from its territory by 1995 and the elimination of its entire supporting infrastructure, as well as the creation, with four other regional countries, of a zone free of nuclear weapons in Central Asia by 2009.
Another step has been the adoption by the UN General Assembly, at Kazakhstan’s initiative, of a resolution proclaiming August 29, the day of the closure of the Semipalatinsk test site, International Day Against Nuclear Tests.
“We believe this will contribute to the objectives of peace, banning nuclear tests around the world, raise awareness and educate the public on issues of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. We call on all countries and international organisations to observe the International Day against Nuclear Tests,” Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry stated.
“Kazakhstan initiated the ATOM Project (Abolish Testing. Our Mission.), an international petition campaign designed to unite public opinion around the world against nuclear testing, which has already received tremendous support from the world community,” it added.
Kazakhstan is also preparing to host the IAEA International Bank of low-enriched uranium and is currently finalising talks with this UN agency on a host nation agreement. “We believe the development of multilateral approaches to nuclear fuel, including the creation of guaranteed nuclear fuel reserves, will promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” the Foreign Ministry noted.
In 2013, Almaty hosted two rounds of talks between the six nations – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – and Iran over its nuclear programme, during which the foundation was laid for further progress in these talks.
Kazakhstan has actively participated in the two nuclear security summits held in Washington, DC, in 2010 and in Seoul in 2012, and is planning to participate in the upcoming summit in The Hague in March 2014. “We consider it important to achieve a common understanding of the threat posed by nuclear terrorism and to take measures to ensure that nuclear facilities, material and technology are invulnerable and do not fall into the hands of terrorists,” the ministry noted.
Kazakhstan is a party to all international instruments regarding the nonproliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The country also actively participates in the activities of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (the Hague Code), the Zangger Committee, the Proliferation Security Initiative, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) and the Global Partnership on Nonproliferation.
In addition to calling for strengthening the NPT, the Foreign Ministry also called on states not party to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) or which have not yet ratified the treaty to do so to ensure its early entry into force. “We believe it is necessary to strengthen the CTBT verification mechanism as one of the most effective tools to ensure nonproliferation, disarmament and nuclear security in the world,” the ministry said.
Kazakhstan also stands for the beginning of negotiations and the early development of the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) which would be an important step towards nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.
Kazakhstan also joins other countries in campaigning for the development of a convention prohibiting nuclear weapons.
“An important step to achieve this goal should be a Universal Declaration of a Nuclear Weapons Free World, initiated by Kazakhstan at the United Nations, to express the commitment of all states to move successively toward the ideal of a world without nuclear weapons,” the ministry said and urged international support for the adoption of the declaration.
Kazakhstan also supports the establishment of nuclear-weapons free zones, including the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East. It further believes that the United Nations should play the key role in resolving global problems and meeting the challenges of the 21st century.
“If entrusted by UN member states and elected a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018, Kazakhstan is ready to take responsibility and to promote nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation at the UN Security Council,” the ministry said.