On March 2, Kazakhstan Ambassador Kairat Umarov signed the Treaty on the
Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Ban Treaty) on behalf of Kazakhstan at the United Nations in New York
Kazakhstan had already rejected nuclear weapons in the early 1990s, after inheriting the fourth largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the 456 Soviet nuclear tests in Kazakhstan from 1949-1991 moved the government to reject nuclear weapons and to lead a number of regional and global initiatives.
These included the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia, and the declaration by the UN of August 29 as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests.
‘We have learned through the stories from second-generation nuclear test victim Karipbek Kuyukov and the ATOM Project of the health impact of the nuclear tests in Kazakhstan,’ said Marzhan Nurzhan (Kazakhstan), Convener of the Abolition 2000 Youth Network: These tests have caused catastrophic consequences for the health of nearly 2 million people living in the ‘Polygon’ region (East Kazakhstan). And they will impact on the health of subsequent generations for hundreds of thousands of years to come/. /It is this experience which unites the people of Kazakhstan and the government in a common quest for the global abolition of nuclear weapons.’