UN approves Kazakh initiative to create new public holiday

On Dec. 2, the UN Committee on Disarmament and International Security approved a draft resolution put forward by Kazakhstan proposing that Aug. 29 be declared International Day against Nuclear Testing.

Madi Asanov

2009-12-09

ASTANA ― On Dec. 2, the UN Committee on Disarmament and International Security approved a draft resolution put forward by Kazakhstan proposing that Aug. 29 be declared International Day against Nuclear Testing. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who on Aug. 29, 1991 closed down the Semipalatinsk Test Site that for 40 years had been used to test Soviet nuclear weapons, made the proposal last June.

In the adopted proposal, the UN General Assembly called on member states to mark this international day every year.

When he presented his resolution for consideration on June 18, President Nazarbayev said that such a step would help raise public awareness of the issues of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons tests have had adverse impacts on the environment and the lives and health of people. Bringing them to an end will be an important step on the road to a world free of nuclear weapons.

Kazakhstan is one of the countries to have suffered the most from nuclear tests. The Soviet Union’s first nuclear weapons test was carried out there on Aug. 29, 1949, at the Semipalatinsk Test Site. No fewer than 456 tests were carried out there between 1949 and 1989. The combined force of tests between 1949 and 1963 alone was 2,500 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The test site was closed down on Aug. 29, 1991. A key role in the closure of the site was played by Nevada-Semipalatinsk, a public anti-nuclear movement led by Olzhas Suleimenov, a well-known figure in Kazakhstan.

On Apr. 6, during an official visit to Astana by the Iranian head of state, Mahmood Ahmadinejad, the president of Kazakhstan said he was willing to consider allowing an international nuclear fuel bank to store waste uranium to be built in his country.

[KT.kz, UN.org, Gazeta.kz, Inform.kz, Ak-Orda.kz]

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