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Why Did Kazakhstan Give Up Its Nukes?

When Kazakhstan became independent 22 years ago and inherited some of the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons, it decided to give them up. If you follow Kazakhstan at all, you know this because Kazakhstan's government doesn't waste a single opportunity to mention the fact.

Kazakhstan has made its status as one of the few governments to ever give up nuclear weapons the centerpiece of its efforts to position itself as a responsible member of the global community. It has started the anti-nuclear weapons testing group The Atom Project, and hosted international diplomatic negotiations on Iran's nuclear program.

Kazakhstan, of course, not only hosted Soviet nuclear weapons but was the site of Soviet nuclear weapons testing, with devastating consequences for the long-term health of Kazakhstan's people. In the narrative that Kazakhstan has constructed since then, it was the searing experience of being subject to nuclear tests that made Kazakhstan give up its nukes.

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Why Did Kazakhstan Give Up Its Nukes?

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