The Semipalatinsk nuclear testing area

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"The Third World Warwas stopped here".

Nuclear race

The whole world was shockedby the U.S. atomic bombings of the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August6 and 9, 1945. Two weeks later, a special committee was created by the order of Stalin in the Soviet Union; it was endued with extraordinary powers to bring any resources of the USSR tospeed up thework on the atomic project. The first nuclear test was conductedin the Soviet Union on August 29, 1949. The bomb capacity was 22 kilotons.

Thus,the nuclear arms race began - the confrontation between the USSR and the United States for supremacy over thenuclear weapons. The world has gone into a state of the cold war for many years. Some other countries have been developing nuclear weapons as well, but none of them did it insuch a large scale as these two superpowers.

The nuclear testing area of 18,500 square kilometers was located on the border of the Semipalatinsk (now East Kazakhstan), Pavlodar and Karaganda regions, 130 kilometers north-west of Semipalatinsk, on the left bank of the Irtysh River. Itbecame an important part of the Soviet atomic project and a radiation injury on the Earth. A previously closed city –Kurchatov is located on the territory of the testing area. It was renamed in the honor of the Soviet physicist Igor Kurchatov (before, it was called: Moscow- 400, Bereg, Semipalatinsk -21 andTerminal station). On the maps, this place is usually shown as a Terminal (by the station name) or Moldary (a village that became a part of the Kurchatov).

At least468 nuclear tests were conducted at the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing area from 1949 to 1989;during these tests, 616 nuclear and thermonuclear devices were detonated, including 125 atmospheric (26 surface, 91 air, 8 high-altitude) and 343 - underground (215in galleries and 128 in wells). Also, dozens of hydro-nuclear and hydrodynamic tests were conducted here.

The total capacity of the nuclear weapons tested from 1949 to 1963in Semipalatinsk was 2500 times higher than the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Radioactive clouds went beyond the testing area. The radioactive contamination of the entire eastern part of Kazakhstan was causedmainly because of the 224 explosions(55 air and surface explosions, gas fraction and 169 underground tests).

Consequences of the nuclear testing

The first test was made on a polygon,whereabout 400thousand people lived in the surrounding areas and in Semipalatinsk. The number of the tests was growing, while at the same time, the population of the region has increased up to 650thousand people, by 1963. According to the materials of radiological clinic, about 70 thousand people were exposed to the radiation from the first surface explosion. And from 1949 to 1963, about 500 thousand people were repeatedly exposed to ionizing radiationin a different range of doses.

In 1958, a young scientist S.B. Balmukhanov with other members of the Institute of Marginal Pathology of Almaty revealed a previously unknown set of pathological symptoms in 50-60% of the examined population of the territory adjacent to the testing area. But soon, Balmuhanovwas banned from working in this direction.

A strong practice of suppressing the data on radioactive contamination of the territoryhas developed during the decades of active usageof the testing area. Soil, air, water, and food contained radionuclides at doses ten times higher than the maximum permissible level!

Another study about thehealth of the population living near the testing area (837 thousand people)was conductedin 1989. Doctors were horrified when they saw their analyzes: detected sickness rate was very high - on an averageat 78.7%. Such massive immunosuppression phenomenon was called the Semipalatinsk AIDS.

434 questionnaires of adult citizens and 83 questionnaires of persons under 16 years old, living in Semipalatinsk, Semipalatinsk region, Ust-Kamenogorsk, east Kazakhstan region and inKurchatov,were analyzed in 1999-2000. The data analysis showed a significant health disabilitiesnot onlyto the first but also to the second and third generations of people; and the closer they lived to the epicenter of the explosions, the greater was, is and will bethe damage to their health.

No - nuclear explosions!

OlzhasSuleimenov, a well-known Kazakhstan poet and a public figure, founded the movement "Nevada - Semipalatinsk", bringing together the victimsof nuclear testsfrom all around the world,whichplayed a key role in closing the testing areain 1989. From this year, the nuclear tests are not conducting. NursultanNazarbayev, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, signed the decree of closing forever the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing areaon August 29.

International activists of the antinuclear movement assumed repeatedly in their speechesthat the timewill come, when a monument "Here was stopped the World War III"will be placedat the former testing area..

Following the closure of the Semipalatinsk testing area in Kazakhstan,a moratorium on the nuclear testing was announced at the world’s four largest testing areas - Novaya Zemlya (Russia), Nevada (USA), Mururoa (France) and the Lop Nor (PRC).

The International antinuclear movement "Nevada - Semipalatinsk" received a support in many countries and was included in the World Register "Memory of the World"by UNESCO.

By the decree of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan № 172 dated February 7, 1996, the lands of the former Semipalatinsk nuclear testing area were transferred to the reserve of the lands of the neighboring  regions as follows:.Karaganda region - 131.7 thousand hectares, Pavlodar – 706thousandhectares, the East Kazakhstan - 978.9 thousand hectares.The total area of the affected territories is estimated at 304,000 square kilometers.

Kazakhstan, knowing at the first hand the consequences of the nuclear testing, is an example for the entire planet; Kazakhstan became the first country in the world, which has refused itsarsenal of nuclear weapons.

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