The 25th Anniversary of Kazakhstan's Independence

Source: 

HON. JEFF FORTENBERRY

of Nebraska

in the House of Representatives

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

 

Mr. FORTENBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the 25th
anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence and the establishment of
diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and the United States of
America. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the
people of Kazakhstan on the tremendous progress achieved by their
country during the past quarter century.

The U.S. is the first country to have recognized Kazakhstan's
independence and since then we have significantly increased our areas
of cooperation. However, the cornerstone of the U.S.--Kazakhstan
relations has always been cooperation in nuclear non-proliferation and
security.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan inherited the
fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world and the world's largest
nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk. In the first years of Kazakhstan's
independence, President Nazarbayev renounced nuclear weapons and closed
the Semipalatinsk Test Site. The United States provided Kazakhstan with
comprehensive assistance in the removal of nuclear warheads, weapons-
grade materials, and their supporting infrastructure.

Five years after gaining its independence, Kazakhstan signed the
Comprehensive-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and ratified it in May of 2002.
The CTBT bans any nuclear weapon test explosion above or below ground
or any other contained environment. Ratifying the CTBT was a milestone
toward creating a safer world. However, as a universally recognized
leader in nuclear non-proliferation, Kazakhstan understands that it is
time to move from a nuclear test ban to a nuclear-weapons free world.
This is why Kazakhstan and its neighbors--Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan,
Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan--created the Central Asian Nuclear Weapons-
Free Zone.

We should acknowledge that Kazakhstan has continued to show its
commitment expanding its cooperation with the United States on matters
of nuclear non-proliferation. As an important example, our two
countries are collaborating in building the Nuclear Security Training
Center (NSTC). The NSTC will provide training of personnel on security
and safeguards essential for safe operation of nuclear facilities in
Kazakhstan.

Twenty-five years of close cooperation between Kazakhstan and the
United States are the foundation of an important strategic partnership
focused on creating a world without nuclear weapons and ultimately a
more stable peace around the globe. It is important that we recognize
Kazakhstan's leadership in nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.
Kazakhstan continues to serve as an example to the international
community, and the United States must remain committed to supporting
Kazakhstan's efforts to further prevent the proliferation of nuclear
weapons and materials toward a goal of global security.

Mr. Speaker, it is a true pleasure to celebrate the quarter century
of Kazakhstan's independence. I would like to extend my warm wishes to
the people of Kazakhstan and President Nazarbayev.