ASTANA – Kazakh Senate Chairman Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev called for a “more secure world built on international trust and cooperation, rather than on nuclear deterrence” during his keynote speech on Friday at the opening of the 62nd Pugwash Conference.
Kazakhstan’s capital city of Astana is hosting the five-day gathering, whose theme this year is “Confronting New Nuclear Dangers.”
Tokayev urged “all states to step up international efforts to strengthen the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.”
The Senate chairman made reference to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Low Enriched Uranium Bank, which will be opened near the Kazakh city of Oskemen on Aug. 29.
“The creation of the IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank in Kazakhstan will ensure guaranteed conditions for all countries in the development of nuclear energy,” the former Kazakh prime minister said.
Tokayev’s speech was followed by comments from Pugwash Council member and former United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio Duarte, who told EFE that the world was in a “very complex situation, with the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe looking quite likely.”
“Since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the world hasn’t witnessed a stronger verbal confrontation than the one that is now taking place between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the Brazilian diplomat said.
Pugwash Conference President Jayantha Dhanapala said that Kazakhstan was a worthy venue for this year’s meeting of more than 200 delegates from 46 countries because the Central Asian nation has offered many initiatives on confronting nuclear threats.
“Kazakhstan closed the nuclear test site, offered initiatives to the UN on declaring Aug. 29 an international day of action against nuclear testing, and we also understand that a nuclear-weapon-free zone is a concept that Kazakhstan contributed to,” Dhanapala said.
In 1991, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev closed Semipalatinsk, the world’s second-largest nuclear test site, and gave up the world’s fourth-largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, which the Central Asian country inherited from the former Soviet Union.
Founded 60 years ago in Canada, the Pugwash movement won the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to promote nuclear disarmament.
The Pugwash conferences seek to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.