Saturday, April 2, 2016

Meet the Central Asian Nation Trying to Benefit From the Iran Nuclear Deal

Reid Standish, [original article contains links.]

uncaptioned image from article
[O]n the sidelines of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington this week, Kazakhstan has its time to shine. While the country’s dismal human rights record and closed political system often draw international criticism, Astana is viewed much more positively when it comes to nuclear non-proliferation because it has surrendered its own nuclear weapons and pushed other countries to do the same. ...
While Kazakhstan’s decision to give up its nuclear weapons and close its facilities was influenced by the country’s painful history as a test site, it was also a pragmatic decision on the part of Nazarbayev [Nursultan Nazarbayev, the country’s first and only president]. According to the president’s official biography, Nazarbayev resisted calls from other world leaders, including former Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi, to keep the warheads, but instead elected to give them up in exchange for “international recognition, respectability, investment and security.” ...

Togzhan Kassenova, an associate in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment, said that Nazarbayev considers the decision to relinquish his country’s nuclear weapons to be a hallmark of his presidency and an important launching pad for the country’s early international ambitions.
“The government is not insincere about this issue, but it is certainly also used for public diplomacy issues,” Kassenova said. “The nuclear issue is the biggest and most unblemished issue related to Nazarbayev.”

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