KUALA-LUMPUR – Two days before the Aug. 29 International Day Against Nuclear Tests, the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Malaysia with the support of the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism and Culture opened a week-long exhibition dedicated to the day and The ATOM Project, one of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s most prominent initiatives.
Among those who attended the ceremony were representatives of Malaysia’s foreign and defense ministries, the National Nuclear Agency, the foreign diplomatic corps, the Malaysian public and the media, as well as students from Kazakhstan.
Chairman of the Committee for International Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Roman Vassilenko represented Kazakhstan. In his welcoming speech, he briefed the audience on the background of Kazakhstan’s nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament initiatives inspired by the tragic consequences nuclear tests at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site have had on the country. He noted that the closure of the Semipalatinsk test site was mandated by a decree of President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 1991 and that newly independent Kazakhstan voluntary renounced the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal, which is the country’s most important contribution to global nuclear disarmament and an example worthy of following.
The Kazakhstan diplomat further elaborated on his country’s main anti-nuclear efforts, including the adoption of the UN General Assembly’s resolution in 2009 proclaiming Aug. 29, the day of the official closure of the Semipalatinsk test site as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests. The yearly commemoration was conceived and promoted by Kazakhstan. The diplomat specifically noted the importance of the establishment of a Central Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (CANWFZ) by the five regional countries.. Last May, this initiative received the so called negative security guarantees from the five recognised nuclear weapon states, making an important further step towards zone legal establishment of the zone.
As chairman of the CANWFZ, Kazakhstan has made significant contributions to its establishment. On May 6, in New York, representatives of the nuclear five – Britain, China, Russia, the U.S. and France – signed a protocol to the CANWFZ treaty. The protocol will require approval by the parliaments of signatory states before coming into force. In October, a delegation from Kazakhstan will participate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly in New York to address the adoption of the next UN General Assembly resolution on CANWFZ.
This year marks five years since the adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution creating the commemorative Aug. 29 occasion. Since the Kazakhstan-initiated resolution was adopted, Kazakhstan, along with other countries around the world, has conducted conferences, seminars, exhibitions and other events calling for the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Although all members of the nuclear club currently observe a moratorium on testing, a de jure global ban on nuclear testing is not currently in place. Putting the CTBT’s into force is one of Kazakhstan’s top priorities.
Vassilenko put a special emphasis on yet another important initiative of President Nazarbayev, The ATOM Project, which seeks to enhance the international community’s awareness of the human and environmental consequences of nuclear testing.
“Today, almost 100,000 people from more than 100 countries have signed The ATOM Project’s online petition at www.theatomproject.org,calling on world governments to ensure that the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty comes into effect early,” he said, adding that stories of nuclear weapons testing in Kazakhstan and other countries should be told and live on to prevent future generations from making the same mistakes.