INTERNATIONAL FORUM FOR A NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE WORLD BECOMES A VALUABLE STEP TOWARDS A SAFER WORLD
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 Declaration.
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 conducted.
“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 Test Site.
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.