One of the most serious and large-scale problems of the XXI century

By Daniil Rozanov

This year marks 67 years since the end of World War II. Each year the quantity of witnesses of this horror is becoming less and less, and for most of our contemporaries the events of the past years are forgotten at all and only one day in a year recalls so terrible period of history. But we should not forget about that, because the difference between history and modernity, as it was said by former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale, is that "we will have no veterans of World War III".

Today, the threat of uncontrolled expansion of the club of nuclear powers - one of the most serious and large-scale problems of the XXI century, leaving behind even such a thing as terrorism. And the swiftness of events taking place every day makes a fresh look at old security mechanisms, including nuclear safety. In light of the situation in the world, questions arise over following: can a small group of politicians, heads of nuclear nations, make the situation with weapons of mass destruction more predictable? How to install an efficient and effective control over nuclear technology and at the same time, guarantee the right of sovereign states to develop peaceful nuclear energy? How to achieve genuine, not imaginary equality in the nuclear field? I would like to remind you that to date there are about two thousand tons of surplus fissile materials accumulated on the ground, which are not used in the military sector, but are quite suitable for the manufacture of nuclear explosive devices. And terrorists, having at their disposal even a primitive nuclear arsenal, could provoke serious international conflicts.

Unfortunately, in this era of pragmatism, the instinct of politicians has become weak, and as a consequence - the world is facing a crisis of responsibility in the field of nuclear safety. As it was rightly said by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the second Summit on Nuclear Security in Seoul: "Some states consider possession of nuclear weapons as a safety factor. Based on the experience of my country, which voluntarily refused from the world's fourth nuclear arsenal, I can say: the real security guarantee can be provided by sustainable economic and social development". The experience of the country is more than sufficient. After all, for the people of Kazakhstan, who have known the horror of a nuclear test, the question of their total ban is particularly significant. It is terrible to even remember those numbers, according to which for four decades of nuclear tests at the Semipalatinsk test site there were carried out 460 bombings, including 116 ground ones, as a result of which there were affected more than half a million people. Among the consequences of radiation exposure - premature death, high levels of cancer, congenital anomalies, in particular, the birth of children with mental and physical defects. Such a tragic legacy explains why on the August 29, 1991 Kazakhstani people apprehended the presidential decree of N. Nazarbayev on closing the nuclear test site with a great relief. It is very symbolic that many years later, this day - August 29, at the initiative of Kazakhstan has been declared as the International Day against nuclear testing. The International Forum for nuclear-free world coming to Kazakhstan on 27-29 August this year is dedicated to this date.

Today, following a peaceful foreign policy, Kazakhstan continues to cooperate with the IAEA, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Krakow Initiative, the Zangger Committee and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Also there is created the National Commission on Non-proliferation of WMD in the republic, the main purpose of which is to ensure the complete elimination of the possible leakage of nuclear material and the competence of it includes the whole range of issues relating to the nuclear cycle.

Obviously, we must accept that the rest of the world is in no hurry to follow the example of Central Asian republic and make an act of goodwill, thus voluntarily abandoning its nuclear arsenal. Moreover, in the last 20 years in the world there are arising new, so-called "threshold" countries that are on the verge of a nuclear bomb. In general, the nuclear factor in politics has not decreased, and for some characteristics it even increased. India and Pakistan already have nuclear arsenal, North Korea has produced an explosion of the nuclear charge, and today we have sharp debates over Iran. But what about the non-nuclear countries provide their own security? It is also quite sharp when a sufficient number of influential countries still refrain from signing and ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This situation allows the official nuclear states to continue testing nuclear weapons, and "threshold" countries - to conduct their own missile and nuclear programs with impunity. Hence to the first ones the question is: how long is it possible to modernize nuclear weapons and at the same time convince the developing countries in need to abandon programs to build weapons of mass destruction?

In addition, we should not forget that by taking legal and vital to all mankind control measures in the field of nuclear safety, the international community should not ignore the global trends in energy and high technology. Therefore it is necessary to maintain a balance between efforts to combat nuclear terrorism and nuclear programs legitimate from the standpoint of international law. And also to create conditions for the States, on the basis of which it will be economically profitable for them to remain in the international legal framework and develop exclusively peaceful nuclear programs. In turn, President Nazarbayev highlighted three main principles to develop nuclear energy. They are likely to be affected in the International forum for the nuclear-free world coming to Kazakhstan on August:

1. Versatility, namely the adoption of legally binding standards of nuclear safety;

2. Transparency and efficiency. Along with the full and prompt notification of any incidents at nuclear facilities, it is necessary to develop clear mechanisms for rapid response to emergencies;

3. Equality and trust, according to which all States should be granted equal rights to access to peaceful nuclear technology, as well as the use of the International Bank for guaranteed supplies of low enriched uranium.

70 years ago, Winston Churchill said: " Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." Fortunately, the world of today is not the arena of nuclear conflict. But it is an arena of serious contradictions. And the solution of these contradictions lies in the hands of the few people who make decisions. In the hands of the leaders of states, each of which bears the responsibility for ensuring that a split atom does not split all of us. And Kazakhstan, headed by its leader became a worthy example of how the policy is targeted to benefit not only its citizens but the entire world community.