- Kazakh-British relations
- Press centre
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Nur-Sultan, 29 August 2019
Dear participants of the ceremony!
I am pleased to welcome you to the ceremony for the awarding of the Prize for Nuclear Free World and Global Security.
I express my gratitude to the renowned experts, state and public figures, and our friends from all over the world.
Today is a historic day not only for Kazakhstan, but also for the whole world's anti-nuclear movement.
As you will know, on 29 August 1991, I signed a decree that closed the world's largest Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site.
It was a historic decision that our people had been waiting for over 40 years.
On 29 August 1949, the Soviet Union's first atomic bomb exploded in Kazakhstan and led to a devastating environmental and human tragedy.
Over the next 40 years, 456 nuclear tests were conducted at the test site.
At least 500,000 people were exposed to radiation.
On 2 December 2009, during the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at the initiative of Kazakhstan, the 29th August was declared as the International Day against Nuclear Tests.
Since 2010, this day has been celebrated all over the world.
Ladies and gentlemen!
On 6 August 1945, at about 8:15 am, a uranium bomb weighing 4.5 tonnes exploded at an altitude of 600 metres above Hiroshima.
“Those who were closest to the epicentre died instantly, their bodies charred right away.
The birds nearby burst into flames in the air, and dry materials instantly ignited at a distance of two kilometres from the epicentre of the explosion," the report read.
We all know about the tragedy in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which, unfortunately, was not prevented...
Today, the world is once again at the edge of a deep abyss.
The geopolitical crisis in relations between the United States and Russia, which account for more than 90% of the global nuclear arsenal, has caused serious negative aftershocks.
The new round of the technological arms race, including in outer space, launched by these two sides is of great concern.
The Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty), of which Kazakhstan was one of the parties, has entirely lost its force.
The threat of termination of the Strategic Offensive Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3) is taking real shape.
A distinct escalation of nuclear tension is noticeable not only on the US-Russia axis, but also in several strategically important regions of the world.
The sanctions policy and the “demonstration of muscle" have not achieved tangible results on the Korean peninsula, and so far have only aggravated the risks.
Similar approaches are leading to the practical devaluation of all achievements in the Iranian nuclear deal, the birth story of which was written on Kazakh land.
Day by day, the situation around Kashmir is exacerbating, where India and Pakistan are continuing to raise their stakes.
Discussions arose about the United States' plans to deploy ground-based medium-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region and the possible responses from China.
The danger of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorist organisations remains.
Potentially hazardous nuclear materials are stored in more than 20 countries of the world, each of which can become a target for destructive forces.
The era of comprehensive artificial intelligence (CAI) is approaching, which can solve more complex problems than artificial intelligence (AI).
It is clear that the delegation of nuclear weapons control to artificial systems of this kind carries both opportunities and potential risks.
We know that almost all systems are vulnerable to hacking or also getting out of control.
An alarming fact is that none of the nine nuclear-weapon holding countries is considering curtailing their military programmes.
At the beginning of 2019, there were 13,856 nuclear warheads in the world.
3,750 of them can be quickly put into operation, and about 2,000 can be activated with the click of a button.
In other words, humanity is experiencing a hitherto unprecedented and complex stage of its development.
In the context of growing aggression and a decrease in mutual trust at the global level, any of these problems can plunge the world community into uncontrolled chaos.
Not only politicians, but also ordinary people in different countries of the world are deeply concerned about this.
They worry about tomorrow and want to have no doubt that it will come.
Dear participants of the ceremony!
Since gaining independence, Kazakhstan has taken its special place at the forefront of the movement for a world without nuclear weapons.
The closure by my decree 28 years ago of one of the largest nuclear test sites on Earth was the first legal ban on nuclear testing in the history of humankind. After that, the test sites in Nevada and in Lop Nur (China) were also closed.
Having experienced all the horrors of hundreds of nuclear explosions, Kazakhstan made a voluntary choice in favour of a complete rejection of the 4th most powerful nuclear potential on the planet.
Following the Semipalatinsk test site, other test sites in different parts of the world were closed or mothballed.
Thus, the ban on nuclear testing has become global.
My decision for the closure of the Semipalatinsk test site paved the way for the adoption in 1996 of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
I and the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as heads of states affected by the testing and use of nuclear weapons, signed the Joint Statement supporting entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). This was the first time in history such document was signed at the highest level.
The joint efforts of Kazakhstan and neighbouring countries in the region paved the way for the creation of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.
By the way, on these days, our capital is hosting the meeting of representatives of all nuclear-weapon-free zones.
We advocate expanding the practice of establishing such zones, including in the Middle East.
Our country is party to all fundamental international treaties in the field of nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of atomic energy.
This year marks the 25th anniversary since Kazakhstan joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
Two months ago, Kazakhstan ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, joining the other 24 states of the world.
This year, we expect the delivery of the first batch of low enriched uranium to the IAEA Bank built in Kazakhstan on my initiative.
The Bank plays a crucial role as it allows all states to ensure their legal right to develop a peaceful nuclear programme under the umbrella of the Agency.
In general, over the past years, Kazakh diplomacy has carried out tremendous work to promote military antinuclear topics in the international arena.
In the Global Peace Index 2019, Kazakhstan ranked 64th out of 163 countries and first in the CIS.
I am also pleased to note that today the pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons has become an essential component of the national identity of Kazakhs.
In 1991, I made the right historical decision that the strength of our new young state would not be as a nuclear power.
We proved through our example that one can successfully walk the path to progress and prosperity in a peaceful way.
Currently, Kazakhstan is a recognised donor of international security and stability.
I think that this gives me the moral right to appeal to the global community to follow our example and use Kazakhstan's experience all over the world.
In this regard, I would like to make several remarks on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
First. In the face of all modern challenges and threats, the global community must find the wisdom and take decisive steps in favour of dialogue for the future of our planet.
This dialogue will be effective if, in the first place, all the leaders of the nuclear states meet around the negotiating table.
I made an official proposal to the main players – the leaders of the United States, Russia, China and other nuclear powers to meet in our capital.
As it has repeatedly happened before, the heads of the world's largest states have always assumed responsibility for humankind's future. That was what happened after the First World War, and after the Second World War. All of that resulted in the creation of the UN. It seems to me that now is the time for such actions again.
Second. It is essential to revise the archaic concept of strategic stability based on nuclear weapons.
A new nuclear arms control system should also be built.
In the end, it is important to negotiate the development of a universal treaty on the reduction of nuclear weapons.
Third. Extremely urgent is the issue of introducing an effective system of legally binding negative security assurances from the nuclear powers.
Security assurances should be provided to states that have voluntarily renounced nuclear weapons, as well as to states that have a nuclear-free status.
Without this measure, waiting for the cessation of attempts to acquire nuclear weapons by the “threshold states" is at the very least naïve.
Fourth. Members of the “nuclear club" must take on a number of obligations and restrictions in favour of adjusting their WMD policies.
It is important that nuclear states curtail the traditional practice of maintaining and modernising their nuclear complexes.
I propose to the states on whose territory the test sites are located to eliminate the infrastructure of these test sites.
Kazakhstan (Russia and the USA) has such experience, we are ready to share it.
Fifth. Some progress has been made in the past two decades in the universalisation of the CTBT and in the monitoring of its implementation through the International Monitoring System.
However, for the Treaty to enter into force, we must be much more insistent on its ratification by several states that have not yet done so.
Sixth. It is important to achieve absolute universalisation and maximum strengthening of the NPT regime and mechanisms.
The world needs a truly working mechanism of tough measures against the possession and proliferation of nuclear weapons.
And this tough mechanism should be supported by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
Dear participants of the ceremony!
Kazakhstan highly appreciates those people who, like us, strive to bring to life the dream of peaceful coexistence of all peoples and States.
Those who have joined us in the quest for global peace by ridding the Earth of weapons of mass destruction.
In order to recognise and promote the merits of such political and public leaders and organisations, I established the Prize for Nuclear Free World and Global Security in 2016.
I fully support the decision of the Selection Committee this year to award the former IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.
As already noted, to our great regret, Yukiya Amano passed away last month.
We will remember him as a person with a big heart who made a special contribution to the achievement of the IAEA's main goals and the high level of cooperation of the Agency with Kazakhstan. He was an active participant in the creation of the Low Enriched Uranium Bank in Kazakhstan.
I express my sincere condolences to the wife and brother of Yukiya Amano, who are present here today.
I also welcome the second prize winner – CTBTO leader Lassin Zerbo.
His efforts to strengthen the verification regime and to establish an international monitoring network for the Treaty should be commended.
I sincerely believe that this award will be a modest reminder but with a huge significance that the future of mankind lies in a world without nuclear weapons.
I strongly believe that our planet will sooner or later forever get rid of this deadly type of weapon of mass destruction and the main goal of my “The World. The 21st Century" manifesto will be achieved.
Today's event is our message to the global community to act together for progress and global prosperity.
Thank you for your attention!