By Erlan Idrissov, Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan
There are few countries that have more reason or authority to champion the cause of a world free of nuclear weapons than Japan and Kazakhstan. Japan, of course, as it is the only nation to have suffered nuclear attacks. The loss of life and devastation caused to Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years ago has helped prevent their military use ever again.
While the impact of nuclear weapons on Kazakhstan may not be as well-known, the damage both to the health of our citizens and the environment have been unmatched in peacetime. Over four decades, our country was the scene of almost 500 nuclear tests in our atmosphere, on the ground and under the ground. Together they had the cumulative impact of more than 2,500 Hiroshima bombs.
Even though the Semipalatinsk site was closed in 1991, its terrible legacy lives on. An area of more than 18,000km2 remains contaminated with radiation. According to the UN, as many as 1.5 million people have suffered – thousands of them fatally – from radiation-related health problems. Cancers and birth defects will continue to hit future generations for many decades to come.
Read the full article by Erlan Idrissov, published by the International Busines Times on 15 December 2015 here.