The first President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been awarded the status of “Champion for a world free from nuclear tests,” the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan said on August 27.

“This was announced at the Special Session of the UN General Assembly, organised on the occasion of the International Day against Nuclear Tests – August 29.  Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), initiated the assignment of a new status to Nursultan Nazarbayev in recognition of the special historical contribution of Kazakhstan during his leadership to global efforts to build a nuclear-free world,” the press service of the Foreign Ministry said.

Nazarbayev’s message was read by Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry Mukhtar Tleuberdi at the videoconference. “I am grateful that he has offered me the new unique status of the ‘CTBTO Champion’. I consider it as an honor to accept the Organization’s proposal and would like to assure that I will exert all my strength and knowledge for the successful fulfillment of the new mission,” Nazarbayev wrote in his address text.

Nazarbayev reminded, that Kazakhstan has experienced all the horrors of nuclear explosions at the Semipalatinsk test site.  For 40 years, 456 explosions were carried out on it, from which one and a half million of my fellow citizens suffered.

After gaining independence in 1991, Kazakhstan renounced the world’s fourth most destructive arsenal of nuclear weapons inherited from the Soviet Union, and on August 29, 1991, closed the largest Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, which became the most significant contribution to strengthening the non-proliferation regime.

On June 18, 2009, at a ceremonial event dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the cessation of tests at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, as well as on July 1, 2009 at the opening of the III Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.A. Nazarbayev took the initiative to declare August 29 the International Day against nuclear weapons.

On December 2, 2009, a UN General Assembly resolution was adopted declaring August 29 as the International Day against Nuclear Tests.  This is the recognition by the international community of the importance of the date of August 29, the day of the official closure of the Semipalatinsk test site, which is of historical importance not only for Kazakhstan, but for all humankind.