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Home » ARCHIVE » Kazakh President Pleads for Safeguarding Nuclear Disarmament

Kazakh President Pleads for Safeguarding Nuclear Disarmament

President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the headquarters of his ruling Nur Otan party in late February 2016. Does he want to get the elections out of the way early before Kazakhstan’s economic crisis intensifies? (Photo: Kazakh Presidential Press Service - March 2016)

President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the headquarters of his ruling Nur Otan party in late February 2016. (Photo: Kazakh Presidential Press Service – March 2016)

By Santo D. Banerjee - NEW YORK – A high-level briefing of the UN Security Council on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related confidence-building measures was a highlight of the month of January 2018 at the UN headquarters in New York. The fact that President Nursultan Nazarbayev chaired the event, lent it an added importance.

“As the first country from Central Asia ever elected to the Council, we became the voice of our people in this high office,” President Nazarbayev told members of the Security Council. He recalled announcing 25 years ago at the 47th UN General Assembly session the initiative to build a regional structure on security and confidence-building, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). Meanwhile, 26 countries, from Israel and Egypt to India and Pakistan, have joined the CICA.

“However, after a quarter of a century, I am back in the UN for my country’s presidency at the Council, and I must admit that the issue of mutual confidence at both bilateral and global levels is acute and becoming more urgent,” the Kazakh President said.

He added: Confidence building measures shall be a top priority on the global agenda as they represent a vital element for maintaining global security architecture and consolidating peace across the globe.

The Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev told the Security Council that the confidence building measures have proven their efficiency throughout history. For example, they helped prevent the mass destruction in the second half of the 20th century, when humanity was on the verge of a new, large-scale war.

“To save subsequent generations from the scourge of war,” as the UN Charter vows, ”is our common goal,” he said, adding: “Kazakhstan has proven its commitment to the goal by voluntary nuclear disarmament, which has been highly appraised by the world.”

As part of the then Soviet Union, Kazakhstan had 1,410 Soviet strategic nuclear warheads placed on its territory and an undisclosed number of tactical nuclear weapons. One of the Soviet Union’s two major nuclear test sites was located at Semipalatinsk, where at least 460 nuclear tests took place. Kazakhstan relinquished its entire Soviet-era nuclear arsenal.

The Central Asian republic created a new model of international cooperation, Nazarbayev said, with the establishment of the IAEA Bank of Low Enriched Uranium in Kazakhstan, thus strengthening the non-proliferation regime.

Kazakhstan’s nuclear disarmament experience can serve as a guideline for those willing to join it, he added, stressing that the country had established and strengthened its independence, reached non-aggression pacts, and built its global recognition by denuclearization. “We call for the leadership of North Korea to follow this lead,” Nazarbayev said.

North Korea, better known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, announced its withdrawal from the NPT on January 10, 2003 with immediate effect and since then conducted six nuclear tests: in 2006, 2009, 2013, twice in 2016, and 2017.

Against this backdrop too, the Kazakh President has proposed six measures:

UN's tied pistol at East River (Webpublicapress photo archive)

UN’s tied pistol at East River (Webpublicapress photo archive)

First, making a withdrawal from the NPT more complex so that the example of North Korea may not push others to seek the possession of nuclear weapons. “Without questioning the NPT, I propose to draft a special resolution of the [UN Security] Council that would define the consequences, including sanctions and enforcement measures for NPT violators,” the Nazarbayev told the 15-nation Council of which Kazakhstan is one of the ten non-permanent members for the two-year period 2017-2018.

This is the first time that a Central Asian nation is a member of the Security Council and – for the first time – chairing an influential organ of the United Nations bearing primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

As a second measure, the Kazakh President proposed working mechanisms of applying tougher measures for the acquisition and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These, he said, should be strengthened by separate Council resolutions. Besides, countries voluntarily renouncing their atomic arsenal should receive robust guarantees of nuclear states.

“Third, either success or failure to update the global security system relies on our ability to overcome militaristic anachronisms: we shall leave behind the division into military blocs that became both provocative and meaningless,” Nazarbayev said, adding that the international community could set a deadline for establishing mutual confidence and bringing about denuclearization by the 100th anniversary of the UN.

Nazarbayev spelt out this proposal in his Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century” on March 31, 2016.

Fourth, the President emphasized the need to create political trust and a systemic dialogue back to the international affairs, stressing the effectiveness of the Iran nuclear deal and expressing the hope that the signatories of what is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will succeed in overcoming difficulties and remaining it intact. Nazarbayev suggested resorting to a similar approach to settle the North Korean issue.

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan-A.-Nazarbayev (Photo courtesy  diplomatic source for education only)

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan-A.-Nazarbayev (Photo courtesy diplomatic source for education only)

“We stand for granting by ‘the nuclear five’ security guarantees to the DPRK as an important condition for creating an atmosphere of trust for Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table,” Nazarbayev stressed.

Should the need arise, Kazakhstan is willing to provide a platform for negotiations, he said reminding the Council participants that Kazakhstan has successfully hosted talks aimed at ending the violence in Syria, and that seven rounds of Astana consultations have contributed to the noticeable decline in violence there.

Fifth, based on the experience of Central Asian countries in establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the region, Nazarbayev called for a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone in the Middle East – banning nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and their delivery systems. Such a zone was envisaged as part of a package of decisions that resulted in the indefinite extension of the NPT, the 1995 NPT Review Conference

Sixth, the Kazakh President impressed upon the international community to avail of the modern scientific achievements, and strengthen the control of arms race. “I believe that confidence-building measures are also needed in forging common approaches to prevention of militarisation of outer space,” he stressed, adding that this could be a theme for a separate round of discussion.

He underlined, however, that these initiatives and the issue of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction depend on mutual understanding and trust between nuclear powers as well as between all the other nations of the world.

“The global community is a single body, strong in its diversity and pluralism that can survive and strive when there is balance and harmony among nations and peoples living on this planet,” Nazarbayev said, praising also the role and the historic mission of the Security Council.

He concluded his remarks by expressing his hopes in trust, willpower and intelligence of humankind multiplied by the energy of collective action in choosing the right direction of peaceful coexistence.

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