ASTANA – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Monday appealed to all nuclear powers to reduce their arsenals because of the risk posed to global security.
“The process of reducing nuclear arsenals should be done multilaterally, with the participation of all states that have that kind of military power,” the Kazakh president said during an international conference in Astana.
The event coincided with the 25th anniversary of the closure of Semipalatinsk, the main Soviet nuclear testing facility, and the International Day against Nuclear Tests promoted by the United Nations, which commemorates the former Soviet Union’s first nuclear test.
Nazarbayev said that global security does not depend on the number of nuclear weapons stockpiled on the planet, but rather on their very existence.
“The possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of international terrorists is more dangerous than ever, and this is a serious topic of discussion for public participation in all countries around the world in the non-proliferation process,” he said.
The Central Asian country has launched antinuclear initiatives such as the ATOM Project.
“We have formed an effective model for the abandonment of nuclear weapons. I am convinced that the international community will recognize Kazakhstan’s achievements as we move towards a world free of nuclear weapons,” Nazarbayev added.
In this regard, former U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman welcomed the Kazakh leader’s stance.
Poneman said that Nazarbayev has “earned his spot in history” for the historic decision he took in 1991 to close the Semipalatinsk test site and give up nuclear weapons, thereby setting an example “for the rest of the world to follow,” Poneman told EFE.
In addition, the Kazakh leader supported the creation of an international prize fostering nuclear disarmament.
A wide variety of political, religious and non-governmental organization representatives attended the forum organized by the Kazakh government and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND).
Participants included Michael Moller, the head of UN Office in Geneva and secretary-general of the Conference on Disarmament; Jordi Xucla, the chairman of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; and Karipbek Kuyukov, a Kazakh artist who was born without arms because of his parents’ exposure to nuclear radiation.