KAZAKHSTAN: Kazakhstan`s decision to dismantle nuclear weapons an example for the world
Kanat Saudabayev, Richard Lugar, Sam Nunn

The world cheered when Kazakhstan became a nonnuclear state in November 1996. I am proud of the role the United States played in Kazakhstan’s decision and of our role in facilitating the removal of thousands of nuclear warheads and the elimination of hundreds of SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missiles, silos, and command centers.

Kazakhstan’s wise and brave choice stands in stark contrast to events in India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran. With these events in mind, the world should be especially appreciative of the course selected by Kazakhstan.

Leaders in Almaty faced the same choices as their counterparts in New Delhi, Islamabad, Pyongyang, and Tehran. But instead of violating international norms and pursuing nuclear weapons, Kazakh leaders made the right choice. When searching for success stories, the international community should turn to Kazakhstan.

The U.S., Kazakhstan, and the international community still have much work to do and these efforts will require compromise and sacrifice. The last ten years have shown that nothing is impossible. Both sides have set aside past differences to accomplish this cooperation. Let us continue to approach these challenges with creativity, a willingness to cooperate, and a commitment to a safer world.

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)

President Nazarbayev is one of the greatest champions of nuclear nonproliferation in the world - not merely by his words, but - most importantly - by his actions and his nation’s example.

President Nazarbayev dismantled his nation’s nuclear weapons and out of that action built a friendship with the United States, an example for the world, and an opportunity for his people to move toward a more promising future. Iran and other nations could learn from Kazakhstan that a nation can grow, modernize, make progress, and gain stature not in spite of renouncing nuclear weapons, but because of it.

Increasing global security also has a critical economic dimension. In making the decision to disarm, President Nazarbayev also chose to use his nations resources to build an economic base that would benefit all the citizens of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan has an important role in global security. Much remains to be done and each crucial step is important to Kazakhstan"s security, US security and world security.

If a terrorist nuclear device exploded tonight in Washington, New York, Astana, Moscow or London, what would we wish we had done to stop it? Why aren’t we doing that now?

Former Senator Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative

Weapons of mass destruction and the desire by international terrorists to use them have become the most dangerous threat in the world today.

The people of Kazakhstan have experienced first-hand the devastating force of nuclear weapons. During four decades, the Soviet Union conducted 456 nuclear explosions at the world’s largest nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk. The cumulative power output of these explosions equaled 2,500 Hiroshima-size bombs. More than 1.5 million people suffered from these tests in Kazakhstan, and vast territories became absolutely useless for life.

That is why Kazakhstan made a step unprecedented in the history of the world when it became the first country to shut down a nuclear test site and renounced the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal. At that time this arsenal was larger than the nuclear weapons stockpiles of Great Britain, France and China combined.

That is why Kazakhstan strongly urges the world to follow our example and further reduce and eliminate nuclear arsenals as well as other weapons of mass destruction, and prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists.

Kazakhstan’s experience in cooperating with the United States in non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and eliminating the infrastructure that supports them provides meaningful answers to modern challenges.

Kanat Saudabayev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the USA