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Kazakhstan’s U.N. ambassador – nuclear testing harmed his country, dismantling nuclear arsenal has benefited it

Former nuclear power Kazakhstan shares lessons for North Korea, Nikkei Asian Review, January 30, 2018  UN ambassador highlights benefits of denuclearization, harm suffered by testing, ARIANA KING, UNITED NATIONS –– Few nuclear powers have ever volunteered to dismantle their arsenals, but Kazakhstan’s U.N. ambassador makes the case that a country stands only to gain by such a dramatic gesture.

 Kazakhstan, which once held the fourth-largest nuclear stockpile with over 1,400 warheads, relinquished all of these Soviet-era weapons by April 1995.

“With the time passing, we more and more are convinced that that was a very right decision at the right moment,” Kairat Umarov, the ambassador and current president of the Security Council, told the Nikkei Asian Review in a recent interview. “And today we are very much proud of this decision,” he said, because Kazakhstan “gained a lot from this step.”……….

“The nuclear-free status of Kazakhstan may serve as an example and as practical guidance for other countries,” Nazarbayev said at that meeting, noting the “high international standing” his country gained by renouncing nuclear weapons. “We call upon all other states to follow our example. We called upon Iran to do so. Now we call upon North Korea to do so.”

“One thing we know for sure: Nuclear capability is not a good defense,” Umarov told The Nikkei. “It’s not a good way to protect a country.”

Possessing such weapons makes a country a target for other nuclear-armed nations, the ambassador added. “So that’s our experience, and we think that anything can be avoided if there is enough political will,” he said.

Umarov said attempts to persuade his North Korean counterparts of the merits of denuclearization have not been fruitful. “But at the end of the day, we think that it is political courage of leaders which really makes things different,” he said. A decision by North Korea to denuclearize would be “received with applause in the international community.”

For Kazakhstan, however, the voices of the victims of nuclear testing at the Semipalatinsk site also led Nazarbayev to dismantle the country’s nuclear program, Umarov said. Though decades have passed since the former Soviet republic closed Semipalatinsk, the legacy of nuclear testing continues.

“We right now have 1.5 million people who are suffering from the nuclear testing site,” Umarov said, citing genetic deformities that have plagued the population and continue to affect newborn children — three generations later.

“It is a very acute, sensitive issue for us,” Umarov asserted, recalling his work for a nongovernmental group in which he fought to shut Semipalatinsk. “So it’s not just we are playing with the politics, or trying to show that we are so principled because of political reasons. It is a very real thing with our population, with our people, and we are reflecting here the will of the people on that issue.”……….https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Former-nuclear-power-Kazakhstan-shares-lessons-for-North-Korea

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January 31, 2018 - Posted by | Kazakhstan, weapons and war

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