The United States of America and the
Republic of Kazakhstan have cooperated on a broad range of nuclear security and
nonproliferation topics for nearly two decades. The partnership was
established under the umbrella of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Agreement
signed in December 1993. Today, the Departments of Energy, Defense, and
State work closely with the Government of Kazakhstan to support President
Obama’s initiatives to secure vulnerable nuclear material and strengthen the
global nuclear nonproliferation regime.
At the end of the Cold War,
Kazakhstan inherited a vast nuclear weapons infrastructure, which included
1,410 nuclear warheads. Working in close cooperation with the United
States, as well as Russia, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and
many other international partners, Kazakhstan eliminated or removed from its
territory all 1,410 nuclear warheads, dismantled the infrastructure of the
Semipalatinsk test site, and destroyed or removed hundreds of missiles,
bombers, and tactical nuclear warheads.
Kazakhstan remains a vital and
strategic partner in some of the most important nuclear security and
nonproliferation efforts worldwide. The United States and Kazakhstan are
cooperating to make the world safer from the threat of nuclear terrorism by
converting and removing nuclear materials that may be attractive to terrorists,
securing nuclear material at production and storage facilities, combating the
trafficking of illicit nuclear materials, and protecting radiological materials
that could be used in radiological dispersal devices to cause widespread
disruption. In addition, both countries are strongly committed to
preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and are working together to
continue reducing the proliferation threats associated nuclear materials,
technologies, and expertise.
Securing Nuclear and Radiological Material
and Removing Nuclear Material: Minimizing the
amount of highly enriched uranium (HEU) available internationally reduces
the danger of attractive nuclear material falling into the wrong
hands. The United States and
Kazakhstan cooperate to convert HEU into low-enriched uranium, which
cannot be used to make a nuclear weapon.
- Recently the two sides removed and permanently disposed
of 33 kilograms (approximately 72 pounds) of HEU fresh fuel from the
Institute of Nuclear Physics (INP) in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This
recent effort builds on previous collaboration with INP, who partnered
with the United States in 2009 to remove 74 kilograms of HEU spent fuel
for final disposition in Russia.
Nuclear and Radiological Material at its Source: Strengthening
the security of nuclear facilities is an important part of ensuring that
nuclear material does not fall into the wrong hands, which is why the
United States has cooperated with the Government of the Republic of
Kazakhstan to upgrade nuclear security at a number of sites in the country
since the late 1990s.
- For example, the United States has partnered with
Kazakhstan and other international partners to decommission the BN-350
fast breeder reactor and secure the equivalent of 775 nuclear
weapons-worth of plutonium and HEU that was contained in the reactor’s
spent fuel. Operations to transport
and store this material to a secure nuclear complex in eastern Kazakhstan
were finished in November 2010.
- In addition, since 2004, the United States and Kazakhstan have cooperated to upgrade physical protection at
19 facilities housing high-active radioactive sources in Kazakhstan to
improve security around the radiological materials.
Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear Materials: The United States and Kazakhstan have cooperated
since 2006 to build capacities to deter, detect, and interdict illicit,
black-market trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials across
international borders. To date, we
have worked together to complete the installation of radiation detection
systems at 19 ports, land border crossings, airports, and other
international points of exit and entry.
Nuclear Terrorism: Since 2006, Kazakhstan has partnered
with the United States in the multilateral Global Initiative to Combat
Nuclear Terrorism, aimed at strengthening the global capacity to prevent,
detect and respond to nuclear terrorism.
Through seminars and field exercises, Kazakhstan has actively
sought to enhance capabilities related to control, accounting and physical
security of nuclear material, and to improve response mechanisms in the
event of a terrorist attack on a nuclear facility.
Strengthening the Nonproliferation Regime
International Inspection Capabilities: The IAEA plays
a vital role in providing assurances that states with nuclear facilities
are complying with international legal obligations not to develop nuclear
weapons. This week, the United States and Kazakhstan will sign a new
agreement to cooperate on research and development to strengthen the
verification capabilities of the IAEA.
The new agreement will allow both sides to develop new technical
approaches for verification challenges.
Capacities to Interdict Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear Technologies: The
United States and Kazakhstan also have cooperated since 1999 to strengthen
export control systems to prevent illicit acquisition of technologies and
equipment for nuclear weapons programs, including working with local customs
and border officials to recognize and interdict WMD-sensitive goods.
Scientists with WMD-Relevant Expertise: For more than
fifteen years, the United States and other partners have sponsored
projects in Kazakhstan through the International Science and Technology
Center (ISTC) to engage former weapons scientists and other technical
personnel with WMD-relevant expertise to prevent the spread of expertise
in nuclear weapons development and production.