U.S. and Kazakh officials signed an agreement on October 3 to seal the former Soviet Union’s nuclear test tunnel complex at Semipalatinsk so it can never test nuclear weapons again. The complex in Degelen Mountain has 186 test tunnels and is the largest such nuclear test site in the world. It was one of two used by the former Soviet Union, along with the Novaya Zemlya site in northern Russia. The Cooperative Threat Reduction agreement between the two countries will provide up to $171 million in U.S. aid to seal the site. (11)
The project aims to have a positive impact on international security in the post-Cold War era by foreclosing future use of the complex. Geological and radiological tests will begin this month in the tunnels so that sealing methods and schedules can be recommended. The goal will be to seal at least 60 tunnels a year and to complete the work in 1999. In a separate but related statement yesterday, Kazakh foreign minister Kassymjonart Tokayev said his country destroyed its last missile silo and related facilities on Saturday, and was now completely free of nuclear weapons.
Kuchma Defends Decision on NATO.