Kazakhstan occupies a pivotal space of great geostrategic importance - it is the only Central Asian republic which shares borders with both Russia (over 4,000 miles) and China (nearly 1,000 miles). Its western border is the Caspian Sea. Its other Central Asian neighbors are Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. Situated in a difficult region challenged by extremist forces, Kazakhstan acts as an important source of ethnic harmony, natural resources and political stability.
A Stabilizing Influence
One of the fifteen new states to emerge from the Soviet empire in 1991, Kazakhstan soon became a leader in dealing with two potentially destabilizing legacies of the Soviet era - it had the world's fourth largest nuclear arsenal and a diverse mix of over 100 ethnic groups. Removing all its nuclear warheads by 1996, Kazakhstan became the first state in history to complete voluntary disarmament. Committed to ensuring a peaceful transition, Kazakhstan has created an open environment for all its nationalities including the Russians, who make up a substantial minority, to build a nation based on democratic and free market principles. Kazakhstan acts as an anchor of stability in an often unpredictable region threatened by extremist forces of religious fundamentalism and terrorism.
A Model Nonproliferation State
Taking the historic step to dismantle its nuclear arsenal, Kazakhstan is an example of responsible behavior in the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Kazakhstan adheres to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the IAEA safeguards regime. Kazakhstan was the first former Soviet state to pass legislation creating nonproliferation export controls. Kazakhstan has been outspoken in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons technology and is an active proponent of the creation of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) in Central Asia.
A Crucial Energy Supplier
With potential oil reserves on par with Kuwait, Kazakhstan will provide world markets with an alternative energy supply, to be delivered via multiple pipelines. Kazakhstan has worked with industry leaders and regional governments to develop a variety of transportation options, including:
A northern route, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) route for oil through Russia which will be operational by 2001.
A trans-Caspian pipeline to deliver both gas and oil to Turkey's port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean.
An eastern route to bring oil to Asian markets via China.
Participation in Multilateral Institutions
Kazakhstan actively participates in multilateral institutions which foster the peaceful resolution of disputes, economic cooperation and the spread of democratic principles, including the Central Asian Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). As a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace and Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Kazakhstan hosts the Central Asian battalion exercises (CENTRAZBAT) with the United States and neighbors Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Kazakhstan has initiated the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) which now brings together 17 countries of Eurasia with half of the world'd population living in them, and the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
Kazakhstan maintains equally strong diplomatic ties with the Muslim states of the Middle East and Israel.