FORUM FOR A NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE WORLD BECOMES A VALUABLE STEP TOWARDS A SAFER
Astana, October 14: Today nuclear security issues play an important role
in world politics, and the International Forum for a Nuclear Weapon-Free World,
held in Astana and Semey on October 12 and 13, turned into a decisive step of
combining efforts of policy makers and the general public towards the
elimination of the nuclear threat.
More than four hundred delegates from all over the
world attended the Forum, including the heads and representatives of
international organizations such as the UN, the IAEA, the OSCE, the CTBTO, as
well as the world’s prominent experts and scientists.
“Nuclear-free world is not utopia. It is a reality
that is present in the larger part of the world. Zones free of nuclear weapons
exist in Central and South America, Australia and Oceania, Africa, Southeast
and Central Asia – it is nearly half of the world. Today we need an effective
mechanism of international legal guarantees from all nuclear states for the
members of these zones,” Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev said,
opening the Forum.
He called on participants to create an authoritative,
powerful global anti-nuclear movement, the main goal of which should be not
only the fight against the nuclear threat, but also the formation of persistent
people’s anti-nuclear world view that rejects all forms of nuclear weapons.
President Nazarbayev also reminded the countries
possessing nuclear weapons about the responsibility for maintaining peace and
warned about the threat of nuclear technology falling into terrorist hands.
Using the opportunity, the UN Secretary-General and
the United States President expressed their solidarity with the policy of
Kazakhstan and its President aimed at a world free of nuclear weapons.
“The Forum in Astana is yet another example of global
leadership of Nazarbayev in nuclear disarmament,” UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon said in his video message. “Thanks to your courageous decision twenty
years ago, Semipalatinsk has become a powerful symbol of hope. Hope for a world
free of nuclear weapons.”
The U.S. President Barack Obama expressed a similar
idea in his statement read by the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel
Poneman. “This ceremony today reminds us that ending nuclear testing must
remain a top priority for the global community. For nearly two decades, the
United States and Kazakhstan have worked together to secure and eliminate
biological weapons. Our partnership is a testament to what is possible when
nations come together in a spirit of cooperation to embrace our shared
responsibility and confront a shared challenge.”
In his speech, Nazarbayev stressed that Kazakhstan
will remain the most reliable partner in the non-proliferation, disarmament,
and peaceful uses of atomic energy.
After the three panel sessions that discussed themes
such as ways of achieving a nuclear weapon-free world, expediting the coming
into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, and the creation of
nuclear weapon free zones, the first day of the Forum ended with the Astana
The declaration notes, among other things, that “the
time has come for all states possessing nuclear weapons to take steps towards
total elimination of nuclear weapons as soon as possible.”
The second day of the Forum was held in the cities of
Kurchatov and Semey in Eastern Kazakhstan and covered an intense programme.
Kazakhstan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Yerzhan Kazykhanov and the mayor of
the Eastern Kazakhstan oblast Berdibek Saparbayev accompanied a number of
distinguished guests, such as the IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, Executive
Secretary of Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO Tibor Toth, Member of French
Senate Aymeri de Montesguiou, and others, to the National Nuclear Centre in
Kurchatov. This unique enterprise was established in order to use atomic energy
for peaceful causes and progress. The guests also visited the Experimental
Field in the former nuclear test site where the first nuclear explosions were
“You, the people of Kazakhstan, who know the terrible
radioactive damage by nuclear tests, have carried out citizens’ movements and
made the courageous decision to close down the nuclear testing site. You have
played a leading role in Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone including Kazakhstan and four
other Central Asian countries. It can be said that Semipalatinsk, while being
the site of one of the mistakes of humankind, is also a place symbolic as
showing the world the bravery to turn back from that mistake,” Tomihisa Taue,
Mayor of Nagasaki, Japan, said at the Demonstration held in Semey’s Colonel
Island to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of closing the Semipalatinsk
The Demonstration was the final event of the
International Forum and gathered more than 20,000 people near the monument
dedicated to the victims of testing called “Stronger than Death.” The event
also included an opening of a 28-meter high “Stele of the World,” which
symbolizes the transition from tragedy to peace and creation.
Earlier the same day, guests of the Forum visited the
Semey Medical University, the Institute of Radiation Medicine and Ecology, the
Regional Oncology Clinic, and the Nevzorovs Family Museum, containing more than
four thousand exhibits.
According to many participants of the Forum, this
event turned into the next step in Kazakhstan’s anti-nuclear initiatives.