BERLIN – The Kazakh Embassy in Germany and the Westerwelle Foundation held an anti-nuclear conference at the venue of Westerwelle Foundation Public Fund in Berlin Nov. 23.
A welcome speech was given by Kazakh Ambassador to Germany Bolat Nusupov. The event was moderated by Central Asia expert and Deutsche Welle journalist Günter Knabe.
Ex-UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs of Germany Angela Kane and the Head of the Federal Foreign Office's Directorate-General for Disarmament Affairs and Arms Control and the Ambassador Patricia Flor took part in the conference.
"As I stand here before you I am full of sympathy for the recent victims of terrorism and their families from Russia, Lebanon, Paris and most recently Mali. As I see the expansion of the likes of Islamic and Alquada fundamentalists spreading their carnage around the world I am also increasingly concerned about a serious threat of nuclear weapons material falling into the hands of terrorists," said Honorary Ambassador of the ATOM project Karipbek Kuyukov.
"Nuclear weapons are an evil and misguided way of purportedly providing security. Their very existence poses a serious threat from either an accident waiting to happen or a terrorist event with their use. Our world now has a new urgency posed by Islamic fundamentalist terrorists that will stop at nothing to kill as many people as they can. The mere fact that we have so many nuclear weapons, which are sometimes less well secured in parts of this world makes this call more urgent – Tell our world leaders to begin serious negotiations on finally eradicating all nuclear weapons worldwide, responsibly and urgently, starting with the immediate signing of the CTBTO (Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty)," he added.
Kuyukov called on participants to sign The ATOM Project petition, which has now more than 210,000 signatures from over 100 countries, to finally put an end to nuclear madness, saying, "the cold war has ended but a new era spurned by Islamic terrorism makes this call ever more urgent."
Kuyukov was born without arms in a small village, just miles from where the Soviet Union conducted more than 450 nuclear weapons tests. He has devoted his life and art to eradicating nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons testing.
"Kazakhstan, more than many other countries, knows the horrible consequences of nuclear weapons. ... Our President at the UN General Assembly in September proposed that mankind identifies nuclear disarmament as the ultimate goal for the 21st century and building a nuclear-weapon-free world as the ultimate law of humanity ... and offered a vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world by 2045, which is the year of sententary of the United Nations," said the Chairman of the of International Information Committee of the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs Roman Vassilenko.
"I am the victim of the nuclear testing at Semipalatinsk. I was born without arms, but I manage to express my creativity through painting with my mouth and feet. I have devoted my life and art to making sure that no one – and nowhere – else suffers the devastating effects of nuclear weapons. I have traveled throughout the world on behalf of The ATOM Project and I have spoken out against nuclear weapons, calling on everyone to sign a petition to world leaders to ban them for good," said Kuyukov.
Thanks to the decision made by President Nazarbayev, I was encouraged to contribute towards and fight to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
The 5th Prague Agenda Conference and the 2015 Assembly of international network of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) was held Oct, 14-17 in Prague with the support of the Senat of the Parliament of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. The conference focused on issues related to nuclear security, disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
This large scale and top level event was attended by members of national parliaments, political leaders and public figures from different countries, representatives of the UN, international organizations and academic community as well as experts in this field. The participants of the conference have discussed the current situation and prospects of nuclear weapons reduction, the role of the UN Security Council and IAEA in terms of strengthening the steps related to non-proliferation of WMD. The necessity of urgent ratification by all countries in the world and the entry into force of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was underlined.
Discussions that took place at the conference aimed at analysing the threats related to proliferation of nuclear technology, designing concrete steps and recommendations for further reduction of nuclear arsenals, and how to prevent terrorist organizations from getting a nuclear weapon.
Special attention was paid to the debate of contribution of parliamentarians to non-proliferation, nuclear materials control legal framework and fulfilling obligations related to export control mechanisms.
In his speech, Victor Rogalev, deputy chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and security of the Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament) of the Republic of Kazakhstan and member of the Council of the international PNDD forum elaborated on recent international initiatives in this area adopted by the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
In this regard, he stressed the importance of forming general public opinion against nuclear testing and in favour of the banning of nuclear weapons. Kazakhstan has a moral right to raise this issue since approximately 450 nuclear tests were conducted in our country during the period from 1949 to 1989 and as a result of these tests, more than 1.5 million people of Kazakhstan suffered and then continue to experience the consequences.
Rogalov also presented The ATOM Project (Abolish Testing. Our Mission) to the international community. The Atom Project is committed to creating global support for the comprehensive nuclear test ban and achieving the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. This project was launched in Astana on Aug. 29, on a day which was declared by the UN the International Day against Nuclear Tests, to commemorate the day when the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site was closed by the President Nazabayev in 1991.
Karipbek Kuyukov, honourable guest from Kazakhstan, Honourary Ambassador of The ATOM Project, activist of the international anti-nuclear movement and renowned artist also addressed the conference. He talked about his life, his hardship and the about tragic fate of his compatriots, who suffered from the nuclear testing conducted on the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site.
Kuyukov has visited many countries, where people suffered from the fact that their homes were close to the nuclear test sites. He has seen the tears of Japanese mothers from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and has taken took part in demonstrations and protests at the nuclear test site in Nevada, USA. He has many friends among people who were involved in eliminating the consequences of Chernobyl nuclear accident and is well aware of the suffering which our planet has experienced.
He underlined that thanks to his unprecedented peacemaking contribution into this process, President Nazarbayev has created a worthy example of humanity for other countries involved in arms race to follow.
The decision to close the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site adopted by President Nazarbayev inspired Kuyuov to make his own contribution into the struggle for a nuclear-weapons-free world. He stressed that one of our main missions on our planet should be to do whatever it takes to prevent ordinary people and future generations from suffering from nuclear testing.
During the conference, an exhibition of the artwork by Kuyuov was organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Prague as well as photography stands which illustrated the topic, Nuclear security in today's world. Participants and guests of the forum had the unique opportunity to see and feel the pain and tragedy experienced by Kazakhstan as a result from the devastating nuclear testing conducted in this country.
Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the Czech Republic
Kuyukov 'waves goodbye to nuclear weapons' despite having no arms as a result of his parent's exposure to radiation from nuclear testing. He encourages people all over the world, regardless of language, nationality, religion, politics or physical ability to join us in the Global Wave.
Kuyukov was born in the village of Yegyndybulak, which is located 100 kilometres away from the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. Over 450 nuclear bombs were 'tested' (i.e. exploded) by the Soviet Union at this site.
'This land is sacred to me not only because it is my motherland, but also because my forefathers were born here and lived there. For me, it is the most beautiful land in Kazakhstan,' says Kuyukov. But nuclear testing has destroyed the land and people. 'We were told, "radioactive substances do not affect flora." What a terrible lie! Overdoses of radiation cause human beings to suffer from cancer tumors, skin cancer and leukemia. These are death sentences! And, what's more, according to the experts, the consequences of radiation can affect from five to six generations of people.'
Kuyukov has experienced extreme adversity, including his own health problems and the sicknesses and deaths of many friends and family members. However, through his art and as the Honorary Ambassador of the ATOM Project, he has been tireless in promoting nuclear abolition globally. He has numerous awards and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his bravery and commitment.
'I took up art. I have loved to draw since my early childhood. I do not know why, but my soul was striving toward creating something beautiful. I did this without arms, but with my feet, legs and mouth. I have become an artist, because an artist's soul cannot be diminished by a physical limitation.'
Kuyukov is optimistic that nuclear abolition is possible. He points to the example of Kazakhstan, which hosted thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons but abandoned the nuclear option and got rid of them all. Kazakhstan, under the leadership of President Nazarbayev, has taken a number of other initiatives for a nuclear-weapon-free world including establishing the UN International Day Against Nuclear Tests, negotiating a Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone and hosting many international nuclear disarmament conferences including the 2012 PNND Assembly at which the ATOM Project was launched.
Despite his physical limitations, Kuykov travels widely to promote nuclear abolition. 'I will continue to call on all the mankind to preserve security on the planet until my heart stops. I do not want the repeat of these events at any place or time, anywhere on the planet. I am happy to live at a time when the voice of one person can be heard and supported by millions living in the most distant places of the Earth – our voices can become one powerful voice!'
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen!
I would like to thank the organisers of the event and the opportunity to speak before you on what I consider to be one of the most important issues of our time.
As I stand here before you I am full of sympathy for the recent victims of terrorism and their families from Russia, Lebanon, Paris and most recently Mali. As I see the expansion of the likes of the so called Islamic State and Al Qaieda fundamentalists spreading their carnage around the world I am also increasingly concerned about a serious threat of nuclear weapons material falling into the hands of terrorists. I cannot stand by without alerting you all about this danger which as far as we know has to date been impeded by security forces in various parts of the world.
Nuclear weapons are an evil and misguided way of purportedly providing security. Their very existence poses a serious threat through either an accident waiting to happen or a terrorist event with their use. Our world now has a new urgency posed by fundamentalist terrorists that will stop at nothing to kill as many people as they can. The mere fact that we have so many nuclear weapons which are sometimes less well secured in parts of this world makes this call more urgent. Let us tell world leaders to begin serious negotiations on finally eradicate all nuclear weapons worldwide, responsibly and urgently starting with the immediate entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty!
This new type of terror threat demands our attention to ensuring the safe decommissionning and disposal of all nuclear weapons for the sake of mankind.
My parents were live witnesses to the nuclear testing that had been conducted at the Soviet Union's Semipalatinsk nuclear test site for over 40 years. They watched as the mushroom clouds formed in the air and the soil flew up into the stratosphere. I have seen many children born with deformations. My own parents had two children who didn't live to be one year old. I want to ask you, dear delegates, "How can you allow for these weapons to exist?"
I am the victim of the nuclear testing at Semipalatinsk, I was born without arms, but I manage to express my creativity through painting with my mouth and feet. I have devoted my life and art to making sure that no one – and nowhere – else suffers the devastating effects of nuclear weapons. I have traveled throughout the world on behalf of The ATOM Project and I have spoken out against nuclear weapons, calling on everyone to sign a petition to world leaders to ban them for good.
On April 21, another push – many miles worth, in fact – will be added to the growing worldwide drive to rid the planet of nuclear weapons as the Bike Away the Atomic Bomb riders begin their journey from Washington, D.C. to New York to call for real action to be taken at the UN Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York on April 27. I won't be riding with them. I couldn't hold the handlebars, or anything else, for that matter: when I was born, outside the now-closed Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site in eastern Kazakhstan, it was without arms. I'm not unusual, where I come from. Forty years of nuclear testing and hundreds of nuclear explosions have blighted swathes of the beautiful steppe there and shattered the surrounding communities, as their effects began to be seen in birth defects and diseases, which continue to this day. The UN estimates that 1.5 million people in Kazakhstan have been affected by the Soviet Union's nuclear test programme. There are many people like me. I am determined to be the last.
In a sense, I am lucky: Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, shut down the poisonous Semipalatinsk test site in 1991, in defiance of the government in Moscow, and upon independence set about dismantling Kazakhstan's formidable nuclear arsenal. Ukraine, Belarus and South Africa join Kazakhstan among the list of countries to renounce their nuclear weapons.
But I and they are also citizens of the world, and while our countries may be free of nuclear weapons, we remain vulnerable as long as the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty remains a dream. We have been waiting since 1996 for this ban to become a reality, and I call on China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States to finally sign and/or ratify this treaty. They must ensure that not one more person suffers from the consequences of nuclear testing and nuclear weapons use in the future.
I may not be able to ride with them, but I will be joining Mayors for Peace, Bike for Peace and The ATOM Project in Washington D.C. before the bikers start this new leg of our journey toward nuclear sanity. We are joining Global Wave 2015 in its schedule of coordinated public actions urging humanity – and particularly the decision-makers at the UN conference – to wave goodbye to nuclear weapons. Tore Nærland, co-founder of Bike for Peace, and Thore Vestby, mayor of Frogn, Norway, who is also vice president of Mayors for Peace and a member of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament are among those who will be riding for four days from Washington to New York.
For this tour, Vestby says, he has a specific message: That nuclear weapons cannot be used, because of their enormous humanitarian and environmental consequences, and are therefore useless.
He takes the message from Colin Powell, he said, who discusses in the introduction to the film "Nuclear Tipping Point," about how he came to realise nuclear weapons must never be used.
"The one thing that I convinced myself of after all these years of exposure to the use of nuclear weapons is that they were useless. They could not be used. If you can have deterrence with an even lower number of weapons, well then why stop there? Why not continue on, why not get rid of them altogether?" Powell says in the film.
Vestby is hoping to meet decision-makers on this trip – particularly those not yet committed to disarmament. "I really hope to meet a lot of mayors along the route, but also senators and members of the House of Representatives in D.C. I also want to meet Republicans who are not on the nuclear disarmament path. I want to hear their arguments. Those are the ones that are important to talk to. You know, the peace and disarmament people are also important, but they are already 'in place,' they do not need to be convinced."
I am asking you to wave goodbye to these weapons, though I cannot do so myself. But I can raise my voice, and my paintbrush, and I will do that until the day I die, to ensure that the world sees what has happened in my country and my community, and more importantly, to make sure that this never happens again, in rich countries or in poor countries or in any other hidden place on earth. Children like me were hidden for long enough. I want to use my voice to tell you about us, now, and use my brush to show you the beauty and heartbreak of my landscape.
I am asking for us to use the conflicts of the past year to fuel our resolve to prevent the unthinkable from happening again. I ask you to join the more than 6,000 cities of Mayors for Peace, who have declared their opposition to nuclear weapons. I ask you to join the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), who in June adopted the resolution "Calling for Constructive Good Faith U.S. Participation in International Nuclear Disarmament Forums" and asking the American administration to participate constructively in discussions and negotiations on disarmament issues, including at the May 2015 NPT Review Conference. I ask you to join Pope Francis, who has made nuclear disarmament a central theme of his papacy.
I call upon the whole and healthy and comfortable to see what their nuclear arsenals can do, even without being deployed, to the earth and its creatures and to end this madness.
I am happy to be living at a time when my voice can be heard and supported by millions around the world – as it is being supported through The ATOM Project and our petition to end nuclear testing. Our voices can become one powerful voice! As one, we can call for the permanent end to nuclear weapons testing. And with Bike Away the Atomic Bomb, we can add to a momentum toward peace.
The author is the honorary ambassador of The ATOM Project.
Honorary Ambassador of The ATOM Project Karipbek Kuyukov sends his thoughts to the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks and reiterates The ATOM Project's committment to a secure world.
In light of the increasing terrorist violence occurring around the world, including the recent attacks in Beirut and against the Russian Metrojet airliner, Kuyukov renews his call for world leaders to once and for all responsibly eliminate all nuclear arsenals. As long as nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons materials exist, there is the possibility they could be used in a terrorist attack. To date numerous efforts to sell radioactive materials have been thwarted by security forces. The world cannot risk any of these materials falling into the wrong hands.
"I weep when I hear those calling for a return of nuclear weapons. I fear for our planet and humanity when I read news stories about countries re-building their nuclear arsenals. After all the horror, all the fear, and all the danger, the recent terrorist attacks have we learnt nothing? How many more, like me, must suffer?"
And to the victims in Paris, Kuyukov says; "I, myself, have no arms to hug you, but I have a heart as big as the open space of Kazakhstan ready to embrace the world for peace and nuclear disarmament."
Karipbek is a renowned artist and international nuclear non-proliferation advocated who has overcome the challenge of being born without arms as a result of his parents exposure to Soviet-era nuclear weapons tests in his home country of Kazakhstan. Kuyukov has spent decades campaigning around the world against the use and testing of nuclear weapons and visiting with victims of nuclear testing. He knows first-hand the damage a violent world can bring.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev gave to U.S. President Barack Obama during the March 31-April 1 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., a painting by Kazakh artist, nuclear weapons activist and The ATOM Project Honorary Ambassador Karipbek Kuyukov, according to the press service of Akorda.
Kuyukov was born without arms as a result of his parents’ exposure to Soviet nuclear weapons testing at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site near what is now the village of Semey in Kazakhstan. He has overcome that challenge to become a renowned artist who paints with his teeth and feet and a globally recognised non-proliferation activist who travels the world as the Hon. Ambassador of The ATOM Project (www.TheATOMProject), urging world leaders, government bodies and the public to seek a nuclear-weapons-free world.
The ATOM Project is an initiative of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and its online petition has gathered more than more than 250,000 signatures to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty into force and to eliminate nuclear arsenals. Kazakhstan suffered more than 450 nuclear weapons tests under the Soviets, resulting in contaminated lands as well as early death, birth defects and horrific health issues for more than one million people that continue to this day.
Kuyukov painted “Explosion” in November 2015. The work features primarily red colours and depicts a man holding his hands up while watching a giant mushroom cloud.
“In that painting I wanted to show a man facing fear during the explosion. My parents were witnesses of those awful tests. My father used to be a driver and used to drive through the test site. He saw everything with his own eyes. This drawing shows from one side a scared man hiding from the radiation and from the other side he is praying for the explosions to stop,” said Kuyukov. “I am very honoured that my painting was chosen by the President to be given to Barack Obama. I think it is an honour not only for me. Each of us, Kazakhstan’s citizens, think about the nuclear test ban. The (Kazakh) President’s decree on closing down the Semipalatinsk test site 25 years ago is our common victory, our merit. We are an example for many countries,” said Kuyukov.
"I am very hopeful that this painting will find its worthy place in the White House collection. I hope it will serve as a powerful reminder to the current and future US Presidents of the United States’ great responsibility to lead the way in ensuring the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Given the events in North Korea and the growing threat of nuclear terrorism, we have no time to lose."
The fourth Nuclear Security Summit was held in Washington, D.C. from March 31-April 1 and attracted many of the world’s nuclear weapons state leaders, activists and others interested in nuclear security. At the summit, President Nazarbayev also met with approximately 15 other heads of state and governments and was involved in discussions concerning the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Nazarbayev had also given Obama during the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul a Kazakh tumar (a traditional Kazakh leather amulet), according to Kazakh Presidential Press Secretary Dauren Abayev.