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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 25, April 1998

Kazakhstan Conference on Nuclear Test Legacy

In early April, a conference of scientists in Almaty, Kazakhstan, appealed for international help in dealing with the health and environmental consequences of atmospheric and underground nuclear testing in the former Soviet Republic. According to the appeal issued at the end of the conference (10 April):

"[Nuclear] tests were carried out in top secrecy with a ban on any information... These actions of the authorities...have negatively affected the destiny of the radiation-struck population. ... The victims of radiation are left without any assistance from the Government and the world community... The conference expresses hope that the States of Europe, Asia and America, as well as international organizations, will help Kazakhstan to solve its ecological problem."

Addressing the conference on 10 April, Aithazha Bigaliyev, Director of the Kazakh Institute of Ecological Problems, claimed that it could "take 300 to 350 years to get rid of mutations caused by decades of nuclear tests." Bigaliyev added: "A growing number of mutations testifies to a huge burden of human-generated factors, especially radiation." According to radiation expert Saim Balmukhov (10 April), "[a]round 1.5 million people have been exposed to radiation" as a result of the 88 atmospheric and 408 underground tests conducted at the Semipalatinsk test site.

Report: Nuclear tests hit future Kazakh generations, Reuters, 10 April.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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