“456 nuclear explosions were carried out at the Semipalatinsk test site, 116 of them were atmospheric”, said Alimzhan Akhmetov, the director of the Center for International Security and Policy, an NGO from Kazakhstan, during the ICAN Act On It Forum in Oslo.
The Semipalatinsk Test Site was the primary testing venue for the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons located in Eastern Kazakhstan between 1949 and 1991.
“According to experts, the total power of atmospheric explosions exceeded the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima by 2.5 thousand times. More than 1.5 million people suffered from nuclear tests in Kazakhstan. On August 29, 1991, the world’s largest nuclear test site, Semipalatinsk, was closed. The landfill area was 18,500 square kilometers, which is comparable to the territory of individual states” sad Akhmetov.
In 1990s, Kazakhstan voluntarily abandoned the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal. At that time, Kazakhstan possessed 1040 nuclear warheads deployed on 104 intercontinental ballistic missiles, 30 strategic bombers and 600 kg of highly enriched uranium.
In 2009 the UN declared August 29, the day of the closure of the Semipalatinsk test site, as the International Day against Nuclear Tests.
“However, people continue to face consequences from nuclear tests. Now in Kazakhstan we have fourth generation of survivors”.
Akhmetov told the stories of local population of the environmental disaster area who suffer from high rates of cancer, cardiovascular diseases diabetes and, as a result, low life expectancy.
“This is a tangle of medical provision and socio-economic and infrastructural development of the affected region. When there is an ambulance, but it will not reach due to the lack of a road, or if someone becomes ill on Wednesday, and not on Thursday, then it is out of luck. I tell all this not to scare, but to the fact that we need to unite our efforts in overcoming the challenges and problems facing us,” Akhmetov said to the audience.