ASTANA – Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov addressed a ministerial meeting marking the first International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in New York on Sept. 26, cautioning that accelerating weapons development threatens global security and calling on nuclear powers to take further steps toward disarmament.
“This meeting takes place at a time when nuclear weapon development and modernisation are accelerating at an unprecedented pace and threaten to erode global security,” Idrissov began. Kazakhstan’s 20 year history of disarmament efforts and its tragic encounter with nuclear testing give the country a moral authority when it comes to the nuclear issue, he said.
Having voluntarily given up the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal upon independence, “over the last 23 years, we have shown that it is possible to live in peace and friendship without possessing a single nuclear warhead,” Idrissov said. “Our weapon has been mutual trust and respect, transparency and confidence building.”
Idrissov expressed hope that Aug. 29, International Day against Nuclear Tests, and the Day for Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons could support each other.
“The movements to ban nuclear tests and ban nuclear weapons are, of course, closely interconnected. We therefore mutually reinforce and combine our synergies of the two days to reach Global Zero,” he said. He also noted Kazakhstan’s online global advocacy campaign, The ATOM Project, which aims to mobilise people around the world to call for a ban on nuclear weapons testing as the first critical step towards nuclear disarmament.
Idrissov expressed his country’s support for the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). “We call for all member states to sign the Treaty and to demonstrate strong action at the 2015 NPT Review Conference to implement the 64 action points from the 2010 Review Conference,” he said.
Kazakhstan also fully endorses the five-point plan of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, he said, which calls for all parties to the NPT to enter negotiations on nuclear disarmament, for nuclear-weapons states to assure non-nuclear-weapon states that they will not be the subject of the use or threat of nuclear weapons, for existing nuclear arrangements and agreements to be brought into force, for more information from nuclear powers about their arsenals and for complementary measures to limit or eliminate specific types of weapons or combat terrorism. Kazakhstan also supports other multilateral initiatives as well as bilateral actions to make the abolition of nuclear weapons possible, he said.
“Global nuclear disarmament should include the dismantling of strategic nuclear forces, and their carriers and technologies developed by increasing numbers of countries in different parts of the world,” Idrissov said. “It is clearer than ever that the abolition of nuclear weapons is dependent on the universal ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).”
He commended the work of the treaty’s Preparatory Commission in detecting nuclear explosions and said that, having served as a venue for four CTBTO field exercises since 1999, Kazakhstan is ready to offer its expertise to all countries interested in conducting similar exercises.
Regionally, Kazakhstan is concerned with the delay in negotiations to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, Idrissov said, as such zones support peace and stability and are crucial steps toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
A nuclear-weapon-free zone was established in Central Asia in 2006, he noted, and China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. signed a protocol on the provision of negative security assurances to the zone, in other words recognising it as such, earlier in 2014. “We look forward to the earliest ratification of the protocol by all P5 States,” he said.
“A nuclear weapons-free world requires all member states to adopt new, legally binding instruments to ban the production of fissile material for military purposes and make it priority agenda item of the [Geneva-based] Conference on Disarmament. But first, the deadlock on this key disarmament entity has to be broken.”
“It is clear that the international community is not yet ready to adopt the much needed Comprehensive Convention Against Nuclear Weapons,” Idrissov said, calling for support for Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s Universal Declaration on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World as an intermediate step.
Idrissov also reiterated Kazakhstan’s commitment to the right of countries to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. “The challenge is to enable this expansion while taking the precautionary measures to prevent proliferation. This is the aim of International Low-Enriched Uranium Bank, which Kazakhstan is negotiating to host under IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] auspices,” he said.