By INS Contributors

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia:For almost half a century Kazakhstan’s territory as large as Wales has been the primary nuclear testing site for the Soviet Union.

From 1946 till 1989, almost 500 nuclear bombs were exploded at the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site. That is equivalent to 2500 Hiroshima explosions.

While still part of the Soviet Union in 1989 Kazakhstan has stopped tests at the Site and after plenty of effort from the local communities, who have critically suffered from radiation for all these years, Kazakhstan has managed to shut down the 4th largest nuclear power in the world.

The general consensus of health studies conducted at the site since it was closed is that radioactive fallout from nuclear testing had a direct impact on the health of about 200,000 local residents. Specifically, scientists have linked higher rates of different types of cancer to post-irradiation effects. Likewise, several studies have explored the correlation between radiation exposure and thyroid abnormalities.

Kazakhstan decided to invest all this energy to global peace and sustainable growth. Since then Kazakhstan has advocated for a Nuclear Free World.

Since 2009, the international community has celebrated August 29 as International Day against Nuclear Tests, declared at the 64th session of the UNGA.

First deputy minister of foreign affairs of Kazakhstan Kairat Umarov remarked in a recent opinion piece that over the past 25 years, the global nuclear security architecture has come under strain and its resilience has been severely tested, reminding us that the nuclear fears depicted in recent film Oppenheimer remain pertinent.

The film chronicles the career of American theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, especially his role in the creation of the atomic bomb during World War II. Following use of this terrifying new weapon, Oppenheimer began speaking out publicly about the dangers of atomic warfare.

“It is imperative for the world to take the threat of nuclear weapons seriously – and map a pathway towards nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament,” Kairat said, warning that the nuclear threat has often been overshadowed in public discourse, despite these weapons presenting as much of an existential risk as the climate crisis.

Kairat also outlines two ways forward in the pursuit of a nuclear-weapons free world: First, the international community must resist any attempt to normalize nuclear threats, challenging those who assert that even a limited nuclear strike can be justified.

Secondly, negotiations on arms control and further reductions of nuclear arsenals must be resumed. In particular, it is critical for the US and Russia to negotiate a new arms control framework to supersede New START, the last remaining major nuclear arms control agreement between the United States and Russia that is still in force. Unless updated, New START will expire in 2026.