Kazakhstan has worked with the US to advance the country’s capabilities to tackle these threats and ensure regional stability since becoming independent and has grown to be a recognized leader in regional security cooperation. The country has supported stabilization activities in Afghanistan and fought the common regional security threats, including nuclear proliferation, terrorism, trafficking in persons, narcotics, and organized crime as well as the newly emerging ones - climate change, food security, and water security. Its efforts have contributed to stability, peace and economic prosperity of the neighboring countries.
Kazakhstan has assumed a critical role as a regional leadership role in supporting the stabilization of Afghanistan. The country granted the overflight rights to coalition forces during operation Enduring Freedom and has since allowed for continued air and land transit for NATO ad US troops and equipment supplies to and from Afghanistan, effectively integrating into the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). In addition, Kazakhstan has played an important role in economic recovery of Afghanistan and efforts to integrate the country into the region within the US Department of State’s New Silk Road Initiative. The government has established a $50 million scholarship program to educate one thousand Afghan students at Kazakhstan’s universities. It co-chaired the Istanbul Process, opened a trade office in Kabul, contributed to the sustainment of Afghan National Security forces, built infrastructure, and established KazAID – an aid agency focusing on Afghanistan and Central Asia. The infrastructure projects supported by the government include financing the construction of schools, hospitals, bridges, water supplies and the Kunduz-Talukan road. KazAID aims to render $2mil worth of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in 2014.
In 2003, Kazakhstan sent 27 military engineers to assist operations of the coalition in Iraq. Over five years nice contingents totaling 290 Kazakh peacekeeping troops were rotated through Iraq. The troops carried out various missions including humanitarian assistance operations, convoy security, perimeter and base defense, quick reaction force duties, traffic control point operations, water purification, and demining. In fact, Kazakhstani forces dismantled 5 million mines and explosives during their tenure in the Iraq. Kazakh doctors, together with their Iraqi colleagues and counterparts from other countries, provided medical assistance to more than 500 Iraqis.
Threat reduction is a cornerstone of US-Kazakhstan efforts to ensure regional stability. With a significant support from the US the country voluntarily destructed 1,300 nuclear warheads inherited from USSR under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Initiative, initiated by Senators Nunn and lugar. Kazakhstan now takes an active approach to promoting nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, as well as control, accounting and physical security of nuclear material. Kazakhstan is a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (CANWFZ). Kazakhstan is an active partner nation in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, which aims to strengthen the global capacity to prevent, detect and respond to nuclear terrorism. With a strong support of the US, Kazakhstan is now in the final stages of negotiating the terms of its hosting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear fuel bank. This bank will prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons by allowing countries to purchase fuel rather than setting up their own enrichment plants.
In May 2006, the two countries signed a cooperative agreement against the trafficking of radioactive and fissile materials, providing installations of equipment detections in major border crossings as well as staff training for these types of regulatory operations. With the assistance of the US, Kazakhstan’s border security agencies have increased their surveillance, detection and interdiction capabilities. Kazakhstani government has built a Training Center for Trafficking within the Ministry of Internal affairs and has introduced training anti-money laundering/counterterrorism finance for government and non-government personnel. In addition, Kazakhstan has improved its ability to disrupt drug trafficking origination from Afghanistan and dismantle associated criminal organization through effective investigation, prosecution and conviction of traffickers. Washington has also trained Kazakh commandos to fight against insurgencies.
Kazakhstan has made strides in fighting organized crime and terrorism. The country annually hosts Steppe Eagle joint counter-terrorism and peacekeeping exercises between Kazakh, US and NATO forces. Thanks to these exercises and the military training assistance Kazakhstan receives, it has developed forces that are capable of working with NATO as well as protect pipelines and other sensitive energy infrastructures of the country from potential attacks. Moreover, the US helped Kazakhstan strengthen its naval capabilities. These efforts confirm Kazakhstani government’s commitment to establish strong defense and security ties with the Western Allies.