Kazakhstan Chamber of Commerce in the USA



Posted on August 27, 2012 by KazCham

No 91 August 27, 2012


Contact: Ms. Nadezhda Khamitova

Office phone number: +77172572340

Mobile: +77016129936

Email: nadezhda.khamitova@gmail.com


Astana, Kazakhstan

August 27, 2012

The Atom Project launches in advance of the UN-sanctioned International Day Against Nuclear Tests and the international conference “From a Nuclear Test Ban to a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World” to be held in Astana & Semey, Kazakhstan, August 27-30, 2012. Conference participants include parliamentarians and leaders from scores of countries and activists from the non-proliferation movement all over the world.

The Atom Project is an international petition campaign designed to unify global public opinion against nuclear weapons testing. The Atom Project went live August 22, 2012 with international television and social media campaigns, a short documentary and video profiles of current survivors of nuclear testing.

The Project is an initiative of The Nazarbayev Center, whose mandate, in part, is to continue and broaden Kazakhstan’s legacy of fighting for a world free of nuclear weapons and weapons testing. The Atom Project hopes to affect real and lasting change by engaging millions of global citizens to stop nuclear weapons testing by joining together to show the world’s leaders that its citizens deserve and demand a world safe from additional nuclear weapons testing.

The Atom Project will tell the tragic and hopeful stories of survivors of nuclear testing from the region of Semey, Kazakhstan, the site of more than 450 Soviet-era nuclear tests. The survivors and their children continue to suffer from illness, disease and severe deformities caused by exposure to nuclear radiation during and after the testing, which took place 100 miles outside of the city, then called Semipalatinsk.

The images of the survivors, though sometimes difficult to witness, are featured in the campaign in order to raise awareness surrounding the damage nuclear testing can cause.

The Atom Project is an initiative of The Nazarbayev Center (TheATOMProject.orgNuclearSafeWorld.org), whose mission includes the promotion of nuclear responsibility, nuclear disarmament, and nuclear nonproliferation according to the vision of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. For more information contact Info@NazarbayevCenter.org


News Bulletin of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Contact person: Nurgali Arystanov

Tel.: 202-232-5488 ext 115; Fax: 202-232-5845


 Website: www.kazakhembus.com

Twitter: @KazakhEmbassy

Facebook: Our Facebook Page

Kazakhstan To Open International Nuclear Fuel Bank Next Year 0

Posted on June 04, 2012 by KazCham

RFE/RL, May 30, 2012

The chairman of Kazakhstan’s Atomic Energy Agency, Timur Zhantikin, has told journalists that Kazakhstan will have an international nuclear fuel bank in 2013, potentially putting it on the front line of the international nonproliferation effort.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expected to decide this year on the site of a fuel bank, where countries in compliance with the IAEA’s regulations could store spent nuclear fuel.

The idea is to improve control over nuclear fuel and prevent it from falling into the hands of countries or groups seeking to develop or obtain nuclear weapons.

In May, Kazakhstan chose the Ulba Metallurgic plant in Oskemen, the capital of East Kazakhstan region, as its proposed site. Kazakh officials have said the country’s bid meets all IAEA requirements.

The Ulba Metallurgic plant, which has been producing dry fuel for nuclear power stations for 50 years, would have the capacity to hold up to 60 tons of gasified low-enriched uranium.

Based on reporting by KazTAG and KazInform

Bringing life to a nuclear wasteland 0

Posted on September 06, 2011 by Alex

Louise Gray, the Telegraph, September 4, 2011

Can a nuclear test site be reclaimed? The Soviets detonated hundreds of bombs in Kazakhstan, poisoning the land and people. Louise Gray of the telegraph travels to the notorious Polygon site and reports on plans to restore the region

Most countries have sealed off areas where nuclear testing was done, but Kazakhstan officials are working to reclaim theirs. Here, a specialist measures the radiation of the soil near a crater formed by a nuclear explosion.

First, Makysh Iskakova saw a bright ball in the sky, “the size of a yurt.” Then there was silence. “It smelled, you know, like hair. Like hair burning. The smell came back from the earth every time it rained.”

Makysh is now 78. When I meet her, she is clad in a traditional brocade waistcoat, with dark glasses to hide eyes shrivelled by exposure to a series of nuclear blasts. “The soldiers told us not to look,” she explains, “but I was curious.”

Between 1949 and 1989, the Soviet Union detonated more than 456 nuclear devices on the Semipalatinsk test site, better known as the “Polygon.”

This region of the Kazakh steppe, covering an area the size of Belgium, was the primary testing ground for the most sophisticated atomic weapons in the Soviet arsenal. Some 116 were exploded above ground, producing the “beautiful” mushroom clouds that witnesses remember; the rest were let off underground, protecting the atmosphere but leaching more poison into the earth.

As for the locals, they were little more than guinea pigs. In the state home for the elderly in Semipalatinsk – which has been renamed Semey since Kazakhstan independence in 1991 – old women gather to tell their stories. They too have injuries and illnesses, though only Makysh receives compensation, because it is so hard to prove the link between nuclear fallout and the diseases that may strike afterwards.

According to Dr. Marat Sandybaev, head of the local oncology centre, cancer rates in the area are still twice as high as the national average, and it is estimated that birth defects are up to 10 times higher.

What is unique about the Polygon, however, is not its past, but its present. While other testing sites around the world have been abandoned, the Kazakhs are attempting to detoxify the area. The National Nuclear Centre of the Republic of Kazakhstan (NNC) wants to open parts of the site for commercial exploitation within a year, and the whole mineral-rich area within a decade, except for “highly contaminated spots.” Decontamination would be carried out simply by scraping off the top five centimetres of soil – although that does leave the question of where to dump it.

Already, there are signs of activity. Beside a model farm set up last year to test radiation levels in livestock and crops, there are traditional herders tending goats and horses. The government is also inviting “disaster tourists” to visit the blast zone. In two years, only 10 people have taken up the offer.

As our group makes the journey to the centre, it’s not hard to see why. The point of detonation for the bomb that Makysh would have seen is now a small lake in the heart of a giant steppe. With the quivering rushes and endless sky, it looks almost pretty. I even see a bright yellow butterfly. But the Geiger counter is racing and so is my heart. My stomach is churning as radioactive dust rises, even though we are wearing gas masks and protective covers on our feet.

The Soviets filled the area with apartments, bridges and roads, to resemble a town. Now, all that is left are burned lumps of concrete. The “biological objects” that were tied to posts, such as horses, cows and pigs (“because they have skin like humans”), are long gone. Our guides, dressed in camouflage gear and disarmingly casual, pick up rocks of melted soil wearing just surgical gloves. The Geiger counter is reading three microsieverts per hour, which is considerably more than you might expect of natural background radiation. Yet the NNC tells us that, during our 10-minute visit, our group of seven has received less radiation than on a transatlantic flight. Its director, Dr. Sergey Lukashenko claims to have swum in an “atomic lake” created by another explosion.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is backing plans to open up the Polygon, but has warned that the contaminated areas need to be designated as such. The Kazakh government is supportive, but insists that the plan is “not a priority,” and that it will consult with the public.

Lukashenko, however, brushes off concerns.

“There is no need to exaggerate the influence of the test site, especially at the present time,” he says.

The greater risk, he says, is from radiation leaching from the ponds of waste created by the many uranium mines dotted around the country – another nuclear problem Kazakhstan has yet to deal with.

The NNC is initiating a project to test samples of local residents’ blood and urine: at least 40,000 people live around the perimeter of the site, frequently making trips into the centre despite the health risks, since dangerous areas are not cordoned off. We see where people have dug out highly contaminated copper wire, reportedly used to make costume jewelry for export to the West.

Their experience with Soviet atomic testing has not deterred the Kazakhs from embracing nuclear power. Despite copious oil and gas resources, and enough solar power and wind on the steppe to extend energy revenues significantly, Kazakhstan is currently discussing whether to build a new nuclear power station. President Nazarbayev renounced nuclear weapons on independence in 1991, but the country has more than 20 per cent of the world’s natural uranium deposits (the fuel source for nuclear power). Roman Vassilenko, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, says Kazakhstan is in a “unique position” to lead the world in using “peaceful” nuclear power. At the same time, he promises that the “petrocash” will continue to flow for the cleanup operation.

There is certainly plenty of money around, in contrast to the depressing Soviet-era streets of Semey. Astana, the new Kazakh capital, has just risen out of the steppe, much of it designed by Norman Foster.

This week, there will be celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the closing of the Polygon and the second UN International Day to Stop Nuclear Testing. For many campaigners, “banning the bang” is as important as banning the bomb, and pressure is growing on America and eight other countries to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to which the vast majority of nations are already signed up.

Back in Semey, there will also be celebrations around the town’s chilling monument to the victims of testing, a giant stone mushroom cloud. For some, however, it will be hard to join in. In the Semey State Children’s Home, Dina Batyrova snuffles and squeaks as she tries to breathe.

Her head is twice the size of a normal child’s, swollen with hydrocephalus (water on the brain).

Next door, abandoned children with conditions such as Down syndrome and other genetic disorders play or sit listlessly in strollers. Borambayeva Dametken, the head nurse, shrugs at the possible link with radiation: “Maybe, maybe not.”

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

SOURCE: http://www.kazakhembus.com/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=771&cntnt01origid=15&cntnt01returnid=201

A nuclear fuel bank to secure peaceful atomic energy 0

Posted on September 06, 2011 by Alex

Euractiv, 31 August, 2011

Kazakhstan is ready to play a key role in global security by hosting an international nuclear fuel bank under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, writes Kanat Saudabayev, the country’s secretary of state, in an exclusive commentary for EurActiv.

This commentary was sent exclusively to EurActiv by Kanat Saudabayev, Kazakhstan’s secretary of state.

“Since regaining independence in 1991, Kazakhstan has been committed to the global process of non-proliferation and reduction of nuclear weapons. After the Soviet Union’s collapse, we gave up the world’s fourth-largest nuclear arsenal and the infrastructure of the old Soviet nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk was completely dismantled, starting in 1991.

But Kazakhstan’s contribution to the non-proliferation regime is not limited to the closure of the nuclear test site and the liquidation of weapons of mass destruction.

Our country is one of the founders of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, jointly launched by Russia and the United States, and the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty created the first nuclear-weapon-free zone entirely located in the northern hemisphere, and the first such zone bordering two nuclear powers.

Possessing some of the largest reserves of uranium in the world and being the leader in its extraction, Kazakhstan today stands for the development of ‘atoms for peace’ under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and supports international efforts to strengthen the security of the nuclear fuel cycle and eliminate the risks of proliferation of fissile materials.

In this regard, President Nazarbayev has declared Kazakhstan’s readiness to host an international nuclear fuel bank, which under the auspices of the IAEA would provide a global repository and allow countries to tap into its reserves to fuel their nuclear plants without the need to develop their own nuclear enrichment capability.

Today, this organisation is considering our proposal. We believe Kazakhstan’s candidacy fully complies with all requirements as the country which the world community can entrust with such a bank. We are convinced that all states interested in secure development of peaceful atomic energy will thus obtain a new and effective non-proliferation mechanism.

At the same time we believe that it is time to strengthen the existing regime of non-proliferation and reduce the amount of weapons of mass destruction.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is the product of the nuclear restraint doctrine formulated during the Cold War epoch. Despite the large number of conflict situations between 1946 and 1991, the world managed to avoid using nuclear weapons.

However, the noble goals of the prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation beyond the borders of the ‘nuclear five’ and nuclear arsenal disarmament on the part of this ‘nuclear five’, set out in the Treaty in 1968, have never been achieved. The Treaty was neither able to prevent the emergence of new nuclear states, nor able to ban the development of weapons of mass destruction by members of the ‘nuclear club’.

Kazakhstan stands for the soonest entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty as an efficient restraint mechanism. By joint efforts, we should persuade the nine countries which have either not signed the Treaty or have not yet ratified it to do so. Without these nine countries’ involvement, the Treaty is meaningless and void.

In addition, it is important to begin early negotiations on elaborating the Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty must now be strengthened. The Treaty has become asymmetric – providing for sanctions against non-nuclear countries only. These nuclear powers calling for the prohibition of nuclear weapons development should set an example by reducing and renouncing their own nuclear arsenals in the optic of a gradual and final elimination of arsenals.

Only a steady decrease in the number of nuclear weapons, a total rejection of horizontal and vertical proliferation by all members of the international community, control over proliferation and non-discriminatory use of nuclear energy and technology for peaceful purposes under the complete supervision of the IAEA is the way ahead. There is no alternative.

That is why at the Washington Nuclear Security Summit in 2010, President Nazarbayev put forward an initiative to elaborate a new universal Treaty on Comprehensive Horizontal and Vertical Nuclear Non-Proliferation, and called upon the United Nations to adopt the Universal Declaration of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World to reflect the determination of all states to move towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.

The way ahead is difficult and thorny. A United Nations resolution recognising 29 August – the date of closure of the Semipalatinsk test site – as the International Day against Nuclear Tests gives the impetus for accelerated action. The resolution is the motor that will drive the forthcoming Astana International Forum ‘For a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World’, which will take place in October.

If all states sincerely strive to build a nuclear-weapon-free world through uniting their efforts and fight to achieve this high and noble goal, we will liberate our planet from that Sword of Damocles: the nuclear weapons threat.”

SOURCE: http://www.kazakhembus.com/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=771&cntnt01origid=15&cntnt01returnid=201

Forging partnerships 0

Posted on April 18, 2010 by KazCham

HE ARREST IN May 2009 of Mukhtar Dzhakishev,  the highly regarded president of Kazakhstan’s  uranium mining and nuclear engineering group  Kazatomprom, together with most of his senior  managers, on alleged theft and corruption charges,  sent shock waves through the Kazakh business world and among dozens of foreign business partners from China to the United States.

Dzhakishev was charged with mishandling  billions of dollars of state property in a controversial  manoeuvre that has removed one of the most highly  qualified and competent state enterprise managers.  Dzhakishev, aged 47, is one of a small group of  highly-educated younger-generation officials who  masterminded the rapid expansion of uranium  mining using in situ leaching methods. He also  negotiated several high-tech co-operation agreements  with foreign, state-owned nuclear corporations and  private mining and engineering groups.

Dzhakishev frequently accompanied President  Nazarbayev and senior government officials on  foreign visits where uranium and linked nuclear  engineering contracts were signed. He has been  replaced by Vladimir Shkolnik, who is considered  a ‘safe pair of hands’ without personal political  ambitions, as one of few high-ranking government  officials who is not an ethnic Kazakh.

Kazatomprom recently announced a 11 per cent  rise in profits to $260 million before ownership was  transferred from the state to Samruk/Kazyna, the state  holding company. The company’s growing importance  as a source of uranium, and Kazakhstan’s record  as a strong supporter of nuclear non-proliferation,  allowed President Nazarbayev to propose Kazakhstan  as the potential site for a long-mooted international  nuclear fuel bank to be set up under the control of the  International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Establishment of such a site would further raise  Kazakhstan’s global profile, although the proposal  met criticism from civil rights groups who question  whether security, transparency and other issues  connected to such a plant could be guaranteed.

The proposal for such an internationally regulated  fuel bank was first launched by the IAEA in 2005 but enthusiastically taken up by US President Barack  Obama. Significantly, President Nazarbayev made  his proposal during a recent state visit to Astana by  Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose  nuclear development plans have raised suspicion that  Teheran harbours nuclear weapon ambitions.

Kazatomprom is already working with Russia’s  Rosatom to build the world’s largest internationally  monitored nuclear fuel reprocessing facility at  Angarsk in Siberia. Supporters of a greater role for  the IAEA argue that facilities such as Angarsk and  the proposed ‘fuel bank’ could allow Iran and other  countries to develop peaceful nuclear plants without  raising fears of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Uranium output from Kazatomprom’s conventional  mines and in situ leaching ‘uranium wells’ rose to  8,521 tonnes last year from 6,600 tonnes in 2007. They  are on course to leap a further 40 per cent to 12,000  tonnes this year. With several new mines due to start  production and more in the pipeline, Kazakhstan is  poised to become the world’s biggest uranium miner,  overtaking both former front-runners, Australia  and Canada.

In April, Prime Minister Karim Massimov opened  the latest in situ mining operation at Khorassan in the  Kyzlorda region. It is the first of two new mines being  built in this southern region not far from the Uzbek  border. The new mine is operated by the Kyzylkum  consortium of Kazatomprom, Uranium One and a  group of Japanese power companies who will be the  main customers of the 3,000 tonnes per year of uranium -which the mine is expected to produce when fully on  stream in 2014. This year the new Khorassan-1 mine,  which has taken three years to build at a cost of $432 million, is expected to deliver an initial 160 tonnes.

The sulphuric acid shortages, which limited in situ  uranium leach mining capacity in 2007, are a thing  of the past now that output from the new Kazakhmys  sulphuric acid plant at Balkhash is building up to its  1.2 million tonne a year capacity and work proceeds on h Kazatomprom’s own 500,000-tonne acid facility.

Sulphuric acid, mixed with hydrogen peroxide,  is the main ingredient of the powerful solvent that  miners inject into the extensive sandstone deposits to  leach out tiny uranium particles scattered through the porous rock. These particles are brought to the surface  as slurry for processing, using techniques pioneered by h the oil and gas industry.

But higher profits and fast-growing uranium mine  output are only part of the story. Another key element  in Kazatomprom’s development is the steady extension of international linkages with some of the world’s  leading nuclear engineering and power companies.

Last October, Kazatomprom and China’s leading  nuclear power corporations, China National Nuclear  Corporation (CNNC) and China Guangdong Nuclear  Power Co (CGNPC), signed strategic partnership  agreements in Astana. Under the new deal,  Kazatomprom will participate in the construction  of nuclear power plants in China in return for minority stakes for the Chinese companies in three  new mines.

Beijing plans to build no fewer than 56 nuclear  power plants over the next decade or so. This opens  up a huge new potential outlet for the engineering  skills, which many of Kazatomprom’s 25,000-strong  workforce first developed in Soviet times, but have  since built up through a series of high-level technical  co-operation agreements with Russian, Japanese,  US, Canadian and European nuclear engineering  companies.

The core of this downstream engineering strategy  is Kazatomprom’s 10 per cent stake in Westinghouse,  bought for $540 million in 2007. Japan’s Toshiba  controls the nuclear power plant manufacturer  through its 67 per cent stake, while a further 20 per  cent is held by the US Shaw group and 3 per cent  by IHI, the Japanese heavy engineering corporation.  Access to Kazatomprom’s uranium gives Westinghouse  the ability to guarantee power plant customers fuel  supplies for the entire life of their reactors.

Access to Kazakh uranium is also a crucial part of  Japanese plans to build 13 more nuclear power plants  over the next decade. Earlier this year a group of  Japanese companies, led by Tokyo Electric power and  Toshiba, added indirectly to their existing Kazakh  involvement by buying 19.5 per cent of Canada’s  Uranium One, which has a 70 per cent interest in the  joint venture that owns the Akdala mine and stakes in  the South Inkai and Khorassan projects – in addition  to assets in the US, South Africa and Australia. With  scant domestic energy resources, Japan has built up  stakes in several Kazakh mines as competition mounts  for access to uranium from other potentially large  consumers, such as China and India.

Last November, Japan’s Nippon Export and  Investment Insurance agency (NEXI) more than  doubled its credit coverage insurance for joint  uranium projects from $48 million to $114 million.

The deal underlined how Kazatomprom remains  practically immune from the credit problems affecting other clients of over-borrowed Kazakh banks.

For Kazatomprom, the Japanese links are an  important element in a series of technical co- operation agreements with Canada’s Cameco and  Uranium One, Cogema of France, Nukem from the  US, and others. The policy of leveraging access to  uranium mines in return for technical co-operation  is also reflected in the recent China deal. By opening  up its nuclear construction market and offering co- operation in nuclear fuel processing, China gained  sought-after equity stakes in three new uranium  mines and secured a long-term source of nuclear fuel  for its ambitious nuclear power plans.

Kazatomprom retains a controlling 51 per cent stake h in the three mines, with Guangdong taking a 49 per  cent share in both the 750-tonne-a-year Irkol mine in  Kyzlorda region, and the 500-tonne-a-year Semizbay  mine in Akmola region. CNNC will get a similar stake  in the Zhalpak mine in South Kazakhstan.

“One of the key terms of the agreement is not  just participation in Chinese nuclear power plant  construction, but also the fuel supplying these NPPs  [nuclear power plants]. Kazatomprom is the first  company to gain access to the closed nuclear fuel  market of China,” Mukhtar Dzhakishev commented  after signature of the deal.

Three months after concluding the strategic deal  with China, Dzhakishev accompanied President  Nazarbayev on his state visit to India and signed  a memorandum of understanding to broaden the  budding nuclear partnership with the Nuclear  Power Corporation of India. Under the agreement,  Kazatomprom will supply both natural uranium  and uranium fuel pellets for India’s nuclear energy programme, which envisages 24 nuclear plants by  2020. In return, Kazatomprom will gain access to  India’s PHWR technology.

The nuclear co-operation agreements with China  and India both took place in the context of state visits  by President Nazarbayev, for whom Kazatomprom is a  powerful symbol of Kazakhstan’s growing industrial  and financial status. This is a pattern first established  three years ago at a summit meeting between President Nazarbayev and then Russian President Putin.

Kazakhstan’s legacy as a former Soviet state means  that establishing Kazatomprom’s independence  and broadening its international connections has  required considerable diplomatic subtlety. Many of the company’s Russian-speaking technical and managerial staff retain close, personal and professional relations  with counterparts in Russia. Although a substantial  uranium producer itself, Russia needs secure supplies  of Kazakh uranium to guarantee future fuel needs. Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear energy corporation, plans  to build 26 new nuclear plants in Russia alone by 2030 -and others in Bulgaria, China, India and Iran.

Moscow sees Kazakhstan as an indispensable source  of uranium, and a close partner in key technologies,  such as uranium enrichment. Nuclear co-operation  is a good example of how the overall Russo-Kazakh  relationship has moved from domination to  partnership since independence. But it has not been  easy and there is still reluctance to share technology in some cases. Two years ago, Rosatom and Kazatomprom agreed to build a 65mw nuclear power plant based  on technology initially developed to power nuclear  submarines. But plans to build a power station based on this technology at the Caspian port city of Aktau  have been delayed, pending agreement on the transfer of intellectual property.

Invest in Kazakhstan An official publication of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2009. Pages: 60-62.

↑ Top