In 1991, one of the most significant consequences of the dissolution of the Soviet empire was the overnight creation of multiple states with nuclear arsenals. Kazakhstan was among four states of the former Soviet Union to inherit both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons.
At independence, Kazakhstan's new Government controlled the fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world: 1,040 strategic nuclear weapons deployed on 104 ten-warhead ICBM's and 370 ALCMs carried by a squadron of 40 bombers as well as the world's largest renting facility, Semipalatinsk, the site of more than 450 nuclear tests over a period of 50 years.
Kazakhstan was among the first countries in the world to unilaterally disarm its nuclear arsenal, rapidly implementing it's disarmament commitments. The people of Kazakhstan widely supported this decision through their activism in an international anti-nuclear movement, Nevada-Semipalatinsk Kazakhstan's first grass-roots NGO and later the basis of a political party. Today, Kazakhstan is a model state of nuclear non-proliferation.
Pro-peace rally organized by Nevada-'Semipalatinsk
A Model State
1st country ever to unilaterally disarm its nuclear arsenal
Met all disarmament requirements on schedule
Ceased all nuclear testing
On-going cooperation with the U.S.
Nuclear Weapons Disarmament
In December 1991, Kazakhstan signed the Alma-Ata Declaration on Nuclear Weapon? leading to the elimination of its tactical nuclear weapons on its territory. By the end ot 1996, Kazakhstan had completed the transfer of all its tactical and strategic nuclear warhead, and their delivery systems.
When Kazakhstan became an independent state, President Nazarhayev signed a decree-prohibiting nuclear testing and permanently closing Semipalarinsk's testing range. A total of 181 test tunnels at Semipalatinsk was closed and sealed, with financial assistance from the U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction program. The last test tunnel was closed in the summer of 2000.
International Non-Proliferation Regime
Kazakhstan is widely praised for its strict adherence to non-proliferation regime:
Acceding to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a nuclear weapons-free state in February 1994.
Signing the comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in September 1996.
Signing a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Association and thereby subject to regular IAEA inspections
Becoming the first state in former Soviet Union to pass comprehensive legislation on non-proliferation export controls to keep weapons-grade materials from rogue states and terrorists.
Ongoing Cooperation with the United States
The U.S.-designed Cooperative Threat Reduction program (Nunn Lugar legislation) has allocated some $172 million to assist Kazakhstan in fulfilling its denuclearization commitments. Since 1993, the Kazakhstan government has been working closely with the Department of Energy to bring its civilian nuclear facilities up to international standards. In 1994, under Operation Sapphire, U.S. and Kazakhstan governments arranged the secret airlift of 600kg of highly enriched uranium from Kazakhstan to the U.S.
At a time when other countries around the globe still demonstrate the temptations of nuclear posturing, Kazakhstan's model non-proliferation record has been essential to maintaining peace and stability in the region.