IN KAZAKHSTAN, UN CHIEF URGES GLOBAL NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
Semey, April 6: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made a strong call for the
world to make meaningful progress towards nuclear disarmament today as he
visited the former Soviet nuclear weapons test site in eastern Kazakhstan.
“Kazakhstan has shown extraordinary leadership in nuclear
disarmament. In 1991, President Nazarbayev made a courageous decision to shut
down the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site and renounce nuclear weapons. That was
a visionary step… a true declaration of independence. ,” Ban Ki-moon said at
visit the former test site where the Soviet Union conducted more than 450
nuclear tests with radiation affecting the lives of 1.5 million people in
Kazakhstan. “I urge leaders of all countries, especially nuclear weapon states,
to follow Kazakhstan’s example. For inspiration they should look to
Kazakhstan’s example,” he added.
Ban Ki-moon arrived in Kazakhstan on his first official
visit on April 6, landing at Semey, the new name of the city of Semipalatinsk.
He was then taken by a helicopter to Kurchatov, the
administrative centre of the Soviet notorious nuclear weapons testing
programme, and the former nuclear test site itself.
The test site was closed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev
on August 29, 1991, in a defiant and courageous gesture as the Soviet Union was
still alive, and the test site was stilled managed by the Soviet government.
A visit to the former
test site by the UN Secretary General is a vivid confirmation of Kazakhstan’s
strong contribution to reducing global nuclear threats and the process of
freeing our planet from these deadly weapons.
Kazakhstan was the first to set an example for the world,
completely and entirely closing one of the world’s largest nuclear test sites,
and voluntarily renouncing the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal.
In December 2009, the UN General Assembly unanimously
accepted a resolution proclaiming August 29, the day when in 1991 President
Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree on the closure of Semipalatinsk Test Site,
as the ‘International Day against Nuclear Tests’.
In Kurchatov, Ban Ki-moon got familiar with the exhibition
at the Museum of the Institute of Radiation Safety and Ecology of the National
Nuclear Center, founded in 1972 on the basis of the scientific and experimental
unit of the test site.
The exhibition reflects the history of the creation of the
Soviet nuclear arsenal and consists of more than 100 models, photo materials
and other artifacts brought from the test site, as well as instruments and
equipment used in the preparation and carrying out of nuclear experiments. The
UN delegation also visited the Tokamak experimental thermonuclear
material-testing unit in Kurchatov, created for conducting scientific research
and testing structural materials of thermonuclear reactors.
Ban Ki-moon visits Kazakhstan at the invitation of President
Nursultan Nazarbayev. They are set to meet in Astana on April 7. The purpose of
the visit is to strengthen political contacts, discuss with the leadership of
the country current issues of bilateral cooperation and international issues in
light of Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship in the OSCE.
On the evening of April 6, Kazakhstan’s Secretary of State -
Minister of Foreign Affairs Kanat Saudabayev and UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon met in Astana. They noted that the visit will give a new impetus for
further productive cooperation between Kazakhstan and the UN, and will promote
closer interaction between the UN and the OSCE.
Remarks made by Ban Ki-moon during his visit to Kazakhstan on April 6-7, 2010