CSTO Member States Release Joint Statement to Mark 30th Anniversary of Closure of Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site

NUR-SULTAN – The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) released a joint statement to mark the 30th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, the press service of the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported on Aug. 26.

The statement was published on the eve of the International Day against Nuclear Tests, which is commemorated on Aug.29.

The CSTO member states highlight the role of Kazakhstan’s First President Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose decree shut down the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site on 29 August 1991.

The ministers also “confirm their commitment to maintaining peace and security, and emphasize the contribution of Kazakhstan, which renounced the possession of nuclear weapons, to strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime, maintaining international security and stability.”

It is said that the termination of the activities of the test site was 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.

Kazakhstan performed vital work to rehabilitate its territory and adjacent areas and to ensure radiation safety and to restore the environment. The importance of joint projects to eliminate proliferation threats and strengthening physical security performed by Russia, the U.S.A. and Kazakhstan since 2004 is emphasized.

The CSTO member states support the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on International Cooperation and Coordination for the Human and Ecological Rehabilitation and Economic Development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan in December 2020.

The ministries are also committed to the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

The statement was adopted by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

From 1949 until 1989, the Soviet Union conducted 468 nuclear tests above and underground at the Semipalatinsk Nuclear test site, known also as the Semey polygon, in the eastern part of Kazakhstan. The total impact of the nuclear explosions in Kazakhstan exceeds the power of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb by 2,5000 times.

Until 1963, all tests were conducted above ground 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.

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