Elimination of the nuclear status
The Soviet Union was a threatening power. Having the largest in the world nuclear potential, the communist colossus used it for promotion of its interests in the international politics. Behind the rhetoric on the nuclear weapon as the tool of aggression's containment from the outside, the communist rulers in the Kremlin did not avoid to use the very fact of possession of nuclear potential for pressure upon other states, frequently in the form of political blackmail.
The disintegration of the Soviet Union was so impetuous and unexpected that the question on what to do with the Soviet nuclear heritage seriously disturbed both the alarmed West and the newly independent states. The large nuclear arsenal was concentrated on the territory of Kazakhstan. The uranium industry, the enterprises for fuel production for various nuclear installations, experimental and industrial nuclear reactors and powerful scientific and technical potential were the part of this arsenal. The complete set of the weapons of mass destruction inherited by Kazakhstan from the Soviet Union included: 104 rockets SS-18 of stationary basing with 1216 nuclear warheads. Besides, there was significant potential in the production of chemical and biological weapons.
Right after gaining independence some people tried to impose on the government of the young state, the certain reasons in basing of nuclear weapon's preservation on the territory of Kazakhstan. The own nuclear zone was presented as a pledge of the country's security and the containment guarantee of the potential ambitions of the probable enemy. In opinion of the authors of such arguments, who failed to get rid of the military-political opposition's mentality of the "Cold war" times, preservation of nuclear forces should compensate quantitative and qualitative blanks in conventional arms, which existed in Kazakhstan at that time. Among the arguments was a thesis that nuclear containment will give to Kazakhstan the status of the regional superpower. The supporters of nuclear complex preservation spoke also about its importance for development of the scientific and technical potential, fundamental and applied science. We should say, that the last issue was especially sensitive - a nuclear complex provided with work thousands people and experts who in case of the projects' termination in Kazakhstan, could be of great demand in other countries of the world, including the countries aspiring to gain access to the nuclear technologies.
It should be given due to the foresight of political leadership of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which despite the pressure of some internal forces, without hesitation, has decided to give up its status as the possessor of the weapons of mass destruction. In contrast to Michael Gorbachev, who openly announced about different doctrines such as "new thinking", Kazakhstan government fulfilled it in practice. In the conditions, when the global military opposition has turned to the category of historical events, the new system of the common interdependent world was formed, which based on the necessity of collective interaction on maintenance of global security, peace and cooperation. The Kazakhstani leader, who had the last word in decision-making, clearly understood the state's deadlock mainstay on the nuclear weapon. Besides nuclear arsenal's preservation by Kazakhstan would torpedo the international system of non-proliferation of the nuclear weapon which was developing by decades. Kazakhstan - the new independent state, upholding the rule of law, could not destabilize by its unilateral actions, what the world community worked out for a long period in the course of difficult negotiations.
There was also one more reason to renounce nuclear weapons. The vast territories of Kazakhstan in Soviet time were used by Moscow for nuclear weapon testing. 459 nuclear explosions, both underground and in atmosphere were conducted here. The consequences of nuclear tests have resulted in condition of ecological catastrophe that affected a number of Kazakhstan regions. It was impossible to live in some areas, the lands could not be used for the national economic purposes, people abandoned familiar spots and the whole areas turned to lifeless desert. As president Nursultan Nazarbayev says: "our country probably, as none of the spot of globe has suffered from apocalyptical consequences of nuclear tests. We simply had no moral right to continue to destroy own people and the land by nuclear explosions".
The first step, which has laid the foundation of Kazakhstani policy of nuclear non- proliferation, became the Decree of President Nazarbayev on closing of Semipalatinsk nuclear testing ground.
It is interesting, that this decree has appeared when in Kazakhstan and all over the world there was no common opinion about Kazakhstan, whether it becomes independent state. This decision has been made contrary to the will of Moscow, first of all a military-industrial complex of the USSR under which jurisdiction was Semipalatinsk nuclear testing ground. During this period it was really the courageous and not ordinary action of the Kazakhstani leader, who was entirely supported by Kazakhstani people.
In 1991 the heads of Kazakhstan, Russia, Byelorussia and Ukraine who have shared the nuclear arsenal of the Soviet Union, having adopted in Almaty the declaration on strategic nuclear forces, which determined the mechanism of joined control over former USSR nuclear arsenal functioning, essential nuclear security level supporting, and confirmed the adherence to international obligations of the USSR in the field of strategic offensive weapon reduction.
The United States of America provided to Kazakhstan support and constructive help in liquidation of nuclear arsenals. The practical moments of cooperation in this field were discussed during numerous meetings on a high level, particularly, during the visit of Secretary of State James A.Baker in Almaty in December 1991, and during the negotiations of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and President George Bush in Washington in May 1992. Senators Sam Nann and Richard Lugar visited Kazakhstan in 1992. They organized the program of joint threats reduction, which has begun to put into effect two years after. The program was directed on performance of obligations under START-1 Treaty, ecologically safe liquidation of the infrastructure of nuclear and other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, creation of the effective export control, defensive cooperation and conversion of military technologies.
On May 23, 1992 in Lisbon the representatives of Kazakhstan, Byelorussia, Russia, Ukraine and USA have signed the protocol, which has been specifying the fields of responsibility of these states for realization of the START Treaty's provisions with reference to strategic nuclear forces, which are located on the territory of the four post-Soviet republics. The Lisbon protocol also contained obligations of Kazakhstan, Byelorussia and Ukraine to join the non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the nuclear - free countries. Few months later Kazakhstan ratified START Treaty and Lisbon protocol, which has become an integral part of this Treaty. In December 1993 the Parliament of Kazakhstan ratified NPT. Joining NPT is one of the important events in the foreign policy of the country.
The efforts of the Kazakhstani government on nuclear weapons abandonment have not remained without proper attention on the part of the leaders of traditionally nuclear powers. On December 13, 1993 during the visit of USA Vice President Albert Gore to Kazakhstan a package of bilateral agreements between the Ministries of Defense of the two countries was signed, regarding nuclear arms. The agreement on granting to Kazakhstan material and technical means, services and training connected with them due tÓ destruction of silo-launchers of intercontinental ballistic missiles and connected with it equipment and components was also among these agreements. December the 5th, 1994 at , OSCE Budapest summit Russia, USA and United Kingdom signed the Memorandum on Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine being presented with security guarantees, due to their entering the Treaty as nuclear-free states. Later China and France presented to Kazakhstan the similar guarantees.
Kazakhstan has become the first among the participants of the Lisbon protocol to fulfill the provisions, concerning nuclear ammunition dislocation. The last testing nuclear charge, which was in the gallery on Semipalatinsk nuclear testing ground, was destroyed on May 30, 1995. On April 21, 1996 the process, which lasted more than one year, regarding the withdrawal from the territory of Kazakhstan 1216 units of nuclear ammunition, was finished. The Kazakhstan land got rid forever of the destroying nuclear heritage.
Having fulfilled the obligations regarding the nuclear arsenal, the Kazakhstani government has faced with another problem - destructions of an infrastructure of the nuclear weapon and transition of the former military productions into peaceful means. A coordinating plan of technical assistance rendering to Kazakhstan was worked out under the aegis of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The assistance included the organization of state system of nuclear materials accounting and control, atomic power stations exploitation, nuclear materials and devices physical guarding. United Kingdom, USA, Sweden and Japan participated in technical assistance plan implementation.
In the course of the 51st UN General Assembly session in 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was opened for signing. President Nazarbayev made a special statement distributed as the official document of the General Assembly. Complete adherence of Kazakhstan to the idea of a universal prohibition of nuclear tests was stated in it. At present there are three seismic tracking stations, able to fix underground phenomenon, taking place thousands kilometers far at the territory of the republic. Kazakhstan offered to include these stations in a global network of monitoring, which will be the effective fool of control above realization of nuclear tests.
Kazakhstan also has joined the project of creation of zone, free from the nuclear weapons in Central Asia. The initiative of the Central Asian states on creation of the similar zone, stated in Almaty declarations on February 28, 1997, became the important contribution of Kazakhstan and other states of the region to strengthening a mode of nuclear non-proliferation.
Nowadays, when Kazakhstan has completely gained the status of the nuclear free state, and by its actions having raised its authority in the world community, we should speak that this process is the unprecedented and the most successful project of denuclearization in the modem world. Such different states as Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Byelorussia managed to show to the world community, that the supreme human values surpass all political calculations in the nature.