Complacency May Be Kazakhstan’s Biggest Nonproliferation Risk, Some Experts Say via Global Security Newswire


Since ridding itself of the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal after the fall of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has continued to go to great lengths to demonstrate to the world its commitment to nuclear disarmament and nuclear security.

The vast majority of Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era weapons of mass destruction-related materials have either been repatriated to Russia or rendered less dangerous and secured inside the country. For the sensitive materials and technologies still present, efforts are ongoing to make them more secure, according to issue specialists.

A plutonium-producing fast reactor at Aktau, near the Caspian Sea, has been shut down and its spent fuel has been secured, according to a July report on global nuclear security released by the Arms Control Association and the Partnership for Global Security.

A research reactor at the Institute for Nuclear Physics, located south of Almaty, is in the process of being switched to run on low-enriched uranium instead of bomb-grade material. The reactor conversion project and the repatriation of highly enriched uranium to Russia are expected to conclude next year, the report said.

A joint effort with Japan to boost physical protections at atomic sites across the massive, largely rural country is expected to conclude by 2015, according to the report. Astana has also announced plans to establish a regional Nuclear Security Training Center in Kazakhstan, though it is not clear when that project will be completed.

Kazakhstan participates in numerous international nuclear security and nonproliferation initiatives, including the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Proliferation Security Initiative, among others.

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