2007 – Kazakhstan Timeline

2007 January 30.  Nazarbayev meets with Merkel in Berlin.  


Nazarbaev's visit to Berlin comes at a time when EU president Germany is backing an initiative for the union to develop comprehensive relations with the Central Asian republics. Merkel may well urge Nazarbaev to improve his government's approach to democratization and human rights. And it coincides with Europe's rising anxiety about relying too heavily on Russian oil and gas supplies, given the indications the past two years that Moscow is prepared to use its resources as levers for its own political interests. Therefore, it's expected that Chancellor Merkel's talks with the head of state of resource-rich Kazakhstan are focusing on the diversification of energy supplies.

—–Protesters in Berlin distribute this document

2007 February 14.  Tokhtar Aubakirov announces Kazakhstan still possessed a nuclear explosive device.


Mazhilis (lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament) member Tokhtar Aubakirov shocked his colleagues and the press by announcing that Kazakhstan still possessed a nuclear explosive device. According to Aubakirov's statement, a "nuclear device" that could still be detonated had been abandoned at Azgyr, a former nuclear test site in Western Kazakhstan, and was too large to be transported to Russia.[1] Kazakhstan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources both issued statements denying the presence of any nuclear warheads or nuclear devices on the territory of Kazakhstan. The Ministry of Energy statement further clarified that the device in question was Yava, a research installation for experiments in high-pressure physics. The Ministry of Energy has stated that due to its technical characteristics, the installation was not suitable for conducting nuclear explosions and did not contain any radioactive materials. During the Soviet era, the installation was used for research on deep submergence effects and the production of artificial diamonds.[2] For more information, see the CNS story of the week: .
Sources: [1] "T. Aubakirov, deputat: 'Atomnaya bomba broshena na ulitse'" ["T. Aubakirov, MP: 'Nuclear Bomb Abandoned on the Street'"], Channel 31, 15 February 2007, http://www.31.kz/31channel/index. php?uin=1103077401&chapter=1171558025& day=15&month=02&year=2007. [2] "Na ustanovke 'Yava', raspolozhennoy na territorii poligona Azgir, ne proizvodilis yadernye vzryvy — MEMR RK" ["The Yava installation located on the territory of Azgyr test site was never used for nuclear explosions"], Gazeta.kz; in Integrum Techno, 19 February 2007, http://www.integrum.ru

2007 February 19.   Kazakhstan Ratifies Additional Protocol to Agreement with IAEA.


Kazakhstani President Nazarbayev signed a law approving the nation’s Additional Protocol to its nuclear safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The protocol was signed in Vienna in February 2004.
Agentstvo Voyennykh Novostey; "Kazakhstan Ratifies Additional Protocol to Agreement with IAEA," 19 February 2007, FBIS Document ID CEP20070219950079.

2007 February 23.  CNS report on Tokhtar Aubakirov claim.

http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/week/070223.htm.  An Alleged "Nuclear Device" in Western Kazakhstan Is a Non-nuclear Installation.  Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, CNS Graduate Research Assistant, Monterey Institute of International Studies, 23 February 2007.   "On 14 February 2007, Kazakh parliamentarian Tokhtar Aubakirov announced Kazakhstan still possessed a nuclear explosive device. However, the device is actually a research installation for high-pressure physics experiments."

2007 March 2.  Chicago Tribune report on lack of security for nuclear materials

Alex Rodriguez, "Soviet-era nuclear material is a target for smugglers willing to sell to anyone," Chicago Tribune, March 2, 2007.

In Semipalatinsk in eastern Kazakhstan, once the site of Soviet nuclear weapons testing, scavengers routinely slip through breaches in tunnels where poorly secured strontium-90, cesium-137, plutonium and uranium waste is stored alongside scrap metal, the site's director says. . .

In Kazakhstan, once a hub for Soviet nuclear production and research because of its remoteness in the steppes of Central Asia, vast networks of tunnels and boreholes used for nuclear weapons testing pose a unique problem.  For four decades, the treeless stretches of scrub outside Semipalatinsk in eastern Kazakhstan served as the Soviet Union's ground zero. The Soviet military machine conducted 458 nuclear weapons tests at the 7,200-square mile site.  Most of the blasts occurred in 181 iron-lined tunnels a half-mile below the ground, or in the site's 60 boreholes.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan relinquished its entire nuclear arsenal and sealed Semipalatinsk's tunnels and boreholes with concrete.

Those seals have failed to deter impoverished Kazakhs, who fashion propane tanks into makeshift bombs to blast their way into the tunnels. Their quarry is scrap metal, but local authorities worry that the vast amounts of strontium, cesium, plutonium and uranium waste still inside the tunnels could attract those intent on building a dirty bomb.  "Anyone who wants to make a dirty bomb can target by-products of the blasts," said Kayrat Kadyrzhanov, director general of the Kazakhstan National Nuclear Center, which oversees the site. "When test blasts were done, not all of the particles burned out. Even taking soil samples would be of value to a terrorist or rogue state.  "When people get into the tunnels, we assume it's for iron. But that's our assumption," Kadyrzhanov said.

The U.S. government has given Kazakhstan more than $20 million to seal up tunnel and borehole entrances, Kadyrzhanov said, "but the problem is still there." Kazakh authorities deploy only four patrol teams_made up of a local police officer, a radiation detector specialist and a driver – to cover 181 tunnels and a tract of steppe the size of New Jersey.

2007 March 30.  Russia and Kazakhstan to develop nuclear power plant.

http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Kazakhstan/4279_4280.html. Russia and Kazakhstan agreed to work on developing a nuclear power plant together, although no timetable or costs of building the plant have been discussed. However, the two countries are well-suited for the partnership with Russia's advanced enrichment facilities and Kazakhstan's uranium deposits.
"Russia and Kazakhstan Plan Nuke Plant," UPI, 30 March 2007; Lexis Nexis Academic Universe, http://global.lexisnexis.com/us.

2007 March 30.  Disappearance of investigative jouranlist, Oralgaisha Omarshanova.


Kazakh Investigative Journalist Disappears.  A Kazakh investigative journalist, Oralgaisha Omarshanova, disappeared on March 30th following a local story about the killings of several people in a small village in Southern Kazakhstan. A writer for independent weekly Law and Justice (Zakon i Pravosudiye), Omarshanova’s disappearance has caught the eye of fellow journalists, human rights groups and local authorities. She had previously received threats as a result of her reporting.

2007 April 19-21.  Sixth Annual Eurasia Media Forum, in Almaty.

Some Blogs on the event, which is a major press junkett:

http://www.roryoconnor.org/blog/2007/04/19/cultural-learnings-of-kazakhstan/ http://www.roryoconnor.org/blog/2007/04/21/glamorization-of-the-media/ 

2007 April 26.   Baker Hughes charged with bribing Kazakhstan government officials.


On April 26, 2007, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a settled enforcement action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas charging Baker Hughes Incorporated, a Houston, Texas-based global provider of oil field products and services, with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA"). Baker Hughes has agreed to pay more than $23 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest for these violations and to pay a civil penalty of $10 million for violating a 2001 Commission cease-and-desist Order prohibiting violations of the books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA. In the Matter of Baker Hughes Incorporated, Admin. Proc. No. 3-10572 (September 12, 2001). In the same complaint, the SEC also charged Roy Fearnley, a former business development manager for Baker Hughes, with violating and aiding and abetting violations of the FCPA. Fearnley has not reached any settlement with the Commission regarding these charges.

The SEC's complaint alleges that Baker Hughes paid approximately $5.2 million to two agents while knowing that some or all of the money was intended to bribe government officials, specifically officials of State-owned companies, in Kazakhstan. . .

2007 March 8.  Forbes names seven Kazakhstan billionaires.


Forbes Rank, Name, Net Worth ($bil)

42   Vladimir Kim, 5.5 (sometimes rumored as front for Nazarbayev.

458  Timur Kulibaev, 2.1 (Married to Nazarbayev daughter Dinara Kulibaeva)

458  Dinara Kulibaeva, 2.1 (Daugher of Nazarbayev)

538 Alexander Machkevich (Business Associate of Alijan Ibragimov and Patokh Chodiev, recently forced to sell shares to Vladimir Kim).

538 Patokh Chodiev, (Business Associate of Alijan Ibragimov and Alexander Machkevich, recently forced to sell shares to Vladimir Kim)

538 Alijan Ibragimov, 1.9 (Business associate of Alexander Machkevich and Patokh Chodiev, recently forced to sell shares to Vladimir Kim)

664  Nurzhan Subkhanberdin, 1.5

2007 May 1.  Kazakhstan and Japan sign nuclear agreements


Strategic alliance for Kazakhstan and Japan
01 May 2007

Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry minister Akira Amari has concluded a visit to Kazakhstan by signing 24 agreements concerning cooperation on energy. The deals could lead to nuclear power in the country and a boost to the scope of Kazakh uranium products.

Few details of the agreements are public, but the most notable concerns Toshiba, which has agreed to "open discussions on how best to build and promote a cooperative relationship" with state-owned champion Kazatomprom. More specifically, the companies will discuss "a mutually beneficial partnership in the nuclear fuel and nuclear power plant construction business."
A memorandum was also signed between Kazakhstan and Japan for cooperation in training related to light-water reactors. Kazakh and Russian officials have previously mentioned the possibility of a nuclear power plant at Aktau, where a Soviet BN-350 fast breeder reactor once operated. A joint venture also exists between Kazatomprom and AtomStroyExport concerning a possible fleet of VBER-300 pressurised water reactors. .  .

Moukhtar Dzakhishev, President of Kazatomprom, recently told the World Nuclear Fuel Cycle 2007 meeting in Budapest, Hungary, that his vision for the company would see it move from acting as a supplier of uranium to a full-scope uranium product supplier, providing Kazakh-fabricated nuclear fuel assemblies.  In addition, World Nuclear News has learned that plans are being made to expand the capabilities of the Ulba Metallurgical Plant to enable the manufacturing of nuclear fuel pellets for reactors other than Russian-designed RBMK and VVER models.  An October 2006 agreement would also see Kazakhstan participate in an international uranium enrichment centre, sited on Russian soil. Ulba already produces refined natural U3O8 and ceramic UO2 powder.

2007 May 3.  US Department of Justice releases $84 million in siezed bribes to foundation to benefit poor children in Kazakhstan.


2007 May 19.  Elimination of term limits for Nazarbayev


Raushan Nurshayeva, “Kazakhstan’s President voted in for life term,” Daily Telegraph, May 19, 2007. Kazakhstan’s veteran leader Nursultan Nazarbayev has been in effect declared President-for-life in a move condemned by the nation’s opposition as undemocratic.

2007 May 19.  Kazakhstan lifts president's term limit


David Holley, "Kazakhstan lifts president's term limit, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev could remain in office for the rest of his life," LA Times, May 19, 2007.

MOSCOW — President Nursultan A. Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan could remain in office for the rest of his life as a result of a package of constitutional amendments approved Friday by Parliament.  The measures, which need Nazarbayev's signature to take effect, would remove any limit on the number of terms he can serve. Under Kazakhstan's current constitution, Nazarbayev, who has exercised authoritarian rule over the oil-rich Central Asian country since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, would be required to step down in 2012. Critics charged that the vote was tantamount to making Nazarbayev, 66, president for life, whereas supporters said it was recognition of the key role he has played in building the country of 15 million. "It is a huge step back for the nation," Aidos Sarimov, a political analyst at the Altynbek Sarsenbayev Foundation, an opposition-linked think tank in Almaty, said by telephone.

Under the changes approved Friday, the president would need to seek Parliament's endorsement for his choice of a prime minister. The package also increased the number of members in Parliament and provided for more seats in the lower house to be filled according to the proportion of votes won by parties. Opposition leaders say that would make it more difficult for independent lawmakers to win seats.  It was not clear that the package as a whole marked any real shift of power toward Parliament, as backers asserted.

"From now on, the president will be able to dissolve Parliament any time he wants," Sarimov said. "According to the new amendments, the president also will be able to disband local councils, which is totally undemocratic. If presidential powers were expanded on 15 points, parliamentary powers were uplifted by only five, which resulted in a further imbalance of power in Kazakhstan in favor of the president." 

2007 May 24.  Nazarbayev says three U.S. Congressmen Praise changes in  Kazakhstan


The President of Kazakhstan received letters from influential members of the United States Congress, who praised the adopted amendments to the Constitution of Kazakhstan.

In his message to President Nursultan Nazarbayev, U.S. Representative Charles Melancon (D-LA) wrote: “I would like to offer my congratulations on your recent democratic reform proposals. Your proposals show great moral integrity and a continuing resolve to further democratize the Republic of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is fortunate to have a leader who values the principles of democracy and puts the welfare of his nation first. Your democratic reforms have assured that future generations of Kazakhstanis will be well represented by their government. Increasing the power of the legislature will allow voters to hold the government accountable for its actions. Since gaining its independence, Kazakhstan's remarkable economic growth and strong economic policies have helped it become a regional leader. These newest reforms will only strengthen Kazakhstan's position as a regional leader, this time in the realm of democratic reformation. This will be a legacy not soon forgotten by your people. Your tireless efforts in the economic and political development of Kazakhstan have not gone unnoticed by American officials. I believe that, once instated, these reforms will further strengthen the growing relationship between America and Kazakhstan.”

Member of the U.S. Congress Darrell Issa (R-CA) emphasized in his letter to President Nursultan Nazarbayev: “On behalf of the United States Congress, I would like to applaud you for the program to further democratize the Republic of Kazakhstan. I am confident that by fully implementing your proposals the roots of democracy will begin to strengthen and solidify in your country. I am pleased that the Parliament approved the constitutional amendments that will lead to a stronger system of checks and balances for Kazakhstan. It is my hope that democracy will be allowed to grow in a manner that will benefit all of Kazakhstan's society.  Kazakhstan has experienced a phenomenal amount of growth, both economically and politically, over the last several years. During that time, the relationship between our two great nations has also grown and flourished. With the steps that you have taken, I am hopeful that this relationship will grow stronger and deeper with time.”

One of the most respectable American lawmakers, Congressman Edolphus Towns (D-NY) wrote in his letter to President Nursultan Nazarbayev: “With great enthusiasm I have just learned about the breakthrough political reforms proposed by you on May 16th, 2007. Undoubtedly, these initiatives would strengthen the glory of any nation. Your political courage and vision have made Kazakhstan a leader in nuclear nonproliferation and promotion of global security. Difficult and painful economic reforms were needed to secure your country's standing among the world's most dynamic economies. Your recent political proposals are most timely. You will secure stability and the future prosperity of your nation. You have proven yourself, yet again as a true leader, by opening this new chapter in the story of modern Kazakhstan. I have faith in the historical destiny of your country. Unfortunately, the ideals of democracy and freedom still remain a luxury in many parts of the world. I just hope they will follow your brave example and find the courage to bring political freedom to their peoples. I applaud Kazakhstan. Economically strong and truly democratically developing, Kazakhstan is a pledge for the future prosperity of your entire region. It is hard to be a reformer, but your noble deeds will live in the grateful memory of your people.”

2007 May 30.  According to this report from Bloomberg:

Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium miner will start selling nuclear fuel to China by 2013, bypassing integrated nuclear companies such as France’s Areva SA. Kazakh nuclear fuel will also be exported to Japan and Europe.

“Kazatomprom plans to start exporting the made-in- Kazakhstan nuclear fuel in about five or six years,'’ Mukhtar Dzhakishev, the Almaty-based company’s head, said yesterday in phone interview. “The fuel will be sold to China, Japan, Europe and, possibly, to U.S.,'’ he said, Kazinform quotes Bloomberg.

Kazakhstan, the world’s third-biggest uranium miner, plans to overtake Canada and Australia in 2010, as demand and prices for the radioactive metal surge. The nation wants to exploit its uranium reserves, which may account for a fifth of the world’s resources of the metal, and obtain stakes in every stage of the nuclear power cycle, from production of uranium to output of nuclear power stations.

“We need a license to set up nuclear fuel production here,'’ Dzhakishev said. “The company has already made steps to get access to the nuclear power cycle.'’

China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co., or CGNPC, agreed to provide Kazatomprom with “certain nuclear fuel products,'’ Kazatomprom said May 24, citing an accord, signed in Beijing, without saying when the deal took place. China National Nuclear Corp., the country’s largest producer of atomic power, own 45 percent of CGNPC.

Kazatomprom wasn’t able to agree a joint venture with any South Korean companies, Dzhakishev said.

Conversion Facility

Canada’s Cameco Corp., the world’s largest uranium producer, and Kazatomprom agreed to build a conversion facility in the Central Asian country to process uranium oxide into gaseous uranium hexafluoride, a step toward turning the radioactive material into reactor fuel. The Canadian company would provide the technology and plans to sign binding agreements with Kazatomprom this year, the Kazakh company said May 29.

Russia, the world’s largest enricher of uranium, signed on May 10 an agreement with Kazakhstan to strengthen cooperation in nuclear power and expand into exploration for the metal. The accord provides political backing to five ventures that will see Russia and Kazakhstan work together to explore for uranium, mine and enrich the metal, design and build small-sized nuclear reactors, and cooperate on logistics. Uranium is enriched as part of the process to produce fuel for reactors.

Prices Doubled

“We expect the enrichment facility to be built in Russia by 2014,'’ Dzhakishev said. Prices for uranium more than doubled in the past year to USD122 a pound, according to data from London- based publisher Metal Bulletin. China and India are turning to nuclear power generation after prices

Uranium demand will more than double to 160,000 metric tons by 2030, from 65,000 tons this year, with use of the nuclear fuel spreading to Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, the World Nuclear Association, said at a Mining Journal uranium conference in London yesterday. . . .

To contact the reporter on this story: Nariman Gizitdinov in Almaty, Kazakhstan, via

 2007 June 15.  12 Hare Krishna homes destroyed.

http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=975 .  Felix Corley, "KAZAKHSTAN: More homes at Hare Krishna commune destroyed," 15 June 2007, Forum 18 News Service.  Workers and police arrived this morning (15 June) at the village near Almaty where the embattled Hare Krishna commune is based to demolish twelve more Hare Krishna-owned homes. "The houses were literally crushed into dust. By ten o'clock it was all over," Hare Krishna spokesperson Maksim Varfolomeyev – who witnessed the latest demolitions – told Forum 18 News Service.

2007 June 16.  Two Kazakh citizens arrested attempting to sell a container of cesium-137 in Shymkent, Kazakhstan.


Sources: [1] "Radioactive material seized in Kazakh south," Interfax-Kazakhstan, 18 June 2007. [2] "Prodam sezii. Dorogo." [Cesium for Sale. Expensive], Express K (Kazakhstan), 20 June 2007, in Integrum Techno, http://www.integrum.ru. {Entered 06/22/07 SG}

2007 June 25.  Feasibility Study For Nuclear Plant


Kazakhstan Starts Feasibility Study For Nuclear Plant- Agency
LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Kazakhstan has launched a feasibility study for a project to construct its first nuclear plant, Interfax news agency reported Monday.

2007 July 26.  Economist editorial opposing Kazakhstan's bid to chair OSCE


If you believe in the principles of democracy on which the OSCE was founded, the question of Kazakhstan is a no-brainer too: an undemocratic country should not chair one of the continent’s main democracy-promoting organisation. This is no mere wrangle about protocol. The debate over Kazakhstan and the OSCE raises a fundamental question about Europe’s willingness to trade democracy for security.

2007 July.   Harpers story on DC lobbying for Kazakshstan and other governments.

Their men in Washington: Undercover with D.C.'s lobbyists for hire

Ken Silverstein, Harpers

Between 1999 and 2000, the Carmen Group received more than $1 million from the government of Kazakhstan to help “establish President [Nursultan] Nazarbayev as one of the foremost emerging leaders of the New World.” The lobby shop sent four writers—syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer, Providence Journal associate editor Philip Terzian, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. of The American Spectator, and Scott Hogenson of the Conservative News Service—on all-expenses-paid trips to Kazakhstan, and upon their return all wrote stories, ranging from critical but sympathetic to slavishly fawning, which the Carmen Group circulated on Capitol Hill.11. The most notable entry in the latter category came from Tyrrell. Despite traveling to Kazakhstan soon after a presidential balloting that was widely condemned as rigged, he wrote that the country “has at least four highly competitive political parties . . . the freedoms of our Bill of Rights, and commendable tolerance.”

2007 July 6. C.J. Chivers, “Former Son-in-Law of Kazakh Leader Says He Was Framed,” New York Times.

“Mr. Aliyev, 44 and until recently the Kazakh ambassador to Austria, is at the center of a palace feud and kidnapping scandal that has become a political sensation in Kazakhstan, the oil- and gas-rich state on the Central Asian steppe that he says Mr. Nazarbayev runs like a family business empire. The case has raised fresh questions about the politics and management of a country that by post-Soviet Central Asian standards has been a success, but is still dogged by election-rigging, centralization and corruption in its governing class.


2007 July 9.  This was the KAZINFORM July 9, 2007 report on the Westinghouse /Kazatomprom transaction:

Japanese electronics company Toshiba Corp. (TOSBF.PK) confirmed on Friday that it is in talks with Kazatomprom, a Kazakh-based state run resources company to sell a part of its stake in U.S. nuclear power company Westinghouse Electric. However, the company said that it has not made any final decision on the sale. Reports indicate that Toshiba intends to sell a 10% stake in for about $527 million, or yen 65 billion. However, the sale of a stake in Westinghouse to a company in a third country requires the approval of the US government.
. . .

Toshiba also intends to secure more orders to build power facilities from power companies in the U.S. and other countries, by a partnership with Kazatomprom in addition to ensuring a long-term supply of uranium. The tie-up would also enable Kazatomprom expand its sales channels worldwide and accelerate mining projects.

Toshiba and Westinghouse are expected to transfer uranium-processing technology to Kazatomprom. With Westinghouse as a subsidiary, Toshiba has the technology to build both boiling water reactors and pressurized water reactors. The partnership with Kazatomprom would enable the companies to combine all parts of nuclear power generation process.

. . .

Toshiba paid $4.16 billion for a 77% stake in Westinghouse, which it acquired in October last year from British Nuclear Fuels plc. Shaw Group Inc. (SGR), a Louisiana-based provider of engineering construction and maintenance services, owns a 20% stake, while Japan-based Ishikawajima-Harima heavy Industries holds another 3% stake.

Toshiba originally hoped that Japanese trading houses Marubeni and Mitsui would take large stakes, which would have reduced Toshiba’s borrowing requirements considerably. In the event Kazatomprom acquires a 10% stake in Westinghouse, it would become Westinghouse’s third-largest shareholder.

In March, Westinghouse and Shaw Group revealed that they successfully negotiated a framework agreement with China’s State Nuclear power Technology Company to provide four AP100 nuclear power plants in China. Construction is expected to begin in 2009, with the first plant becoming operational in 2013.

2007 July 10.  report from Russian news agency:

Kazakhstan to stop exporting uranium ore

The Japanese media has said that Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan’s state-owned nuclear holding company, was currently negotiating the purchase of a 10% stake, worth $488 million, in America’s Westinghouse Electric Corporation from electronics giant Toshiba, and that the deal could be closed in July.

Westinghouse Electric Corporation is the main rival of Atomenergoprom, the only holding company in Russia’s civilian nuclear industry.

Kazakhstan hopes to use U.S. technologies to stop uranium ore exports to Russia and to sell high value-added products instead, namely, heat assemblies made according to Western standards.

On Monday, Kazatomprom representatives said the company had acquired Westinghouse Electric Corp. shares, and that subsequent uranium sales on U.S., European and Asian markets were a long-term aspect of the Kazakh business strategy.

This year, Kazakhstan will produce 7,630 metric tons of uranium ore. It plans to boost production to 15,000 metric tons by 2010, outpacing Australia and Canada, which account for 24% and 28% of global uranium output, respectively.

Russia, which annually requires 17,000 metric tons of uranium ore, produces insufficient amounts. And Astana hopes to take advantage of the global resurgence of nuclear power, which will inevitably create uranium shortages.

Russian nuclear companies were dismayed to learn about Kazakhstan’s decision to discard Soviet-era technologies.

An anonymous expert close to the Federal Nuclear Power Agency said Westinghouse Electric Corp. still could not offer heat assemblies similar to hexagonal Russian-made versions, and that this was the reason why Czech and Finnish nuclear companies had to resume cooperation with Russian suppliers.

He said efforts by French companies to introduce their technologies at Hungarian nuclear power plants had resulted in nuclear contamination, and that Russian experts had been called in to rectify the situation.

According to the expert, Russian nuclear companies do not face any tough competition in Kazakhstan, which has rudimentary power-supply networks and which still cannot build high-capacity Westinghouse-type reactors.

He said the first Kazakh NPPs would be built according to Russian know-how and would generate 300 MW of electricity each.


2007 July 11.  A report in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, then the only U.S. reporting on the deal:

Ex-Soviet state eyes uranium primacy
By Bonnie Pfister
Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In its prospective deal with Toshiba Corp. to purchase a 10 percent stake in Westinghouse Electric Co., Kazakhstan is making its latest step in a quest to become the world’s top uranium producer by 2012.

Since May, state-run energy firm Kazatomprom has made a deal with a Canadian firm for construction of a new uranium-conversion facility, another to provide nuclear fuel to a key Chinese utility, and a third with its Russian counterpart for cooperative uranium exploration. A 2006 contract with two Japanese firms to develop a new uranium mine also is under way.

Those moves set the stage for the Central Asian nation’s negotiations to buy a piece of Westinghouse.

Published reports in Japan suggest the price for a 10 percent stake in the Monroeville-based firm could be $486.4 million. Such a deal reportedly would shore up supplies of reactor fuel in return for access to Toshiba technology and its sales channels. A spokesman for Toshiba would confirm only that talks are under way.

Growing concerns about the role of carbon emissions in global warming has utilities in the United States and abroad looking to nuclear power after two decades of ambivalence. The demand and extended weather-related closures at key uranium mines in Australia and Canada have tripled uranium prices in the past year to about $120 a pound.

Because Toshiba would keep a 67 percent interest, it is not clear whether a deal would be reviewed by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. A spokeswoman for the committee — which approved such deals as Toshiba’s purchase last year of Westinghouse and the aborted attempt by Dubai Ports World to manage several U.S. seaports — neither would confirm nor deny if such a review would be merited.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission action would not be needed because there would be no change in licensing, an NRC spokeswoman said.

Kazakhstan is a place many Americans know only as the homeland of “Borat” — the title character of a hit film depicting a fictional journalist’s tour across the United States. But experts describe the sprawling country as among the most mature economies in Central Asia and a stable nuclear partner.

“Here we are talking about Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, India. This is the only country that had actual nuclear arms — not potentially nuclear arms — and gave them up,” said S. Frederick Starr, chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University. “In the moral sense, that gives them immense credibility.”

Kazakhstan — home to the Soviet Union’s nuclear-weapons program and nuclear-test sites — within four years of its 1991 independence had transferred its 1,400 nuclear warheads to Russia, according to the anti-proliferation group Nuclear Threat Initiative.

In 2002, Kazakhstan became the first of the former Soviet states to receive investment-level credit rating.

Kazatomprom, founded in 1997, reported assets of $1.6 billion last year. In April it announced plans to increase its uranium output sixfold to 18,000 tons per year by 2012.

Greg Vojack, a managing partner with law firm Bracewell & Giuliani in Kazakhstan, said the Westinghouse interest shows that Kazakh companies are coming of age and expanding globally. It’s also a way to shore up partners other than Russia for its nuclear-related industry.

“President (Nursultan Nazarbayev) has done a very good job in terms of balancing East-West,” Vojack said. “Having the resources that it does have, it must balance all interests to get the best deal for Kazakhstan.”

Bonnie Pfister can be reached at
or 412-320-7886.

17 July 2007.  Four groups seek to block sale of Westinghouse stock and technology to Kazakhstan nuclear firm.


Four groups, including KEI, have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Treasury's  Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States ("CFIUS"), asking that it block a proposed sale of 10 percent of Westinghouse, the US nuclear energy firm, to KazAtomProm, a nuclear energy firm owned by the government of Kazakhstan.

The groups signing the letter Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Essential Action and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and Greenpeace.   The URL for the letter is: http://www.keionline.org/misc-docs/17jul07-westinghouse-kazatomprom.pdf

The groups "oppose the transaction on the grounds that the sale will undermine efforts to limit nuclear proliferation, and will give sensitive nuclear technology to a brutal, repressive and undemocratic regime, which may lack long-term legitimacy and stability." 

The letter says "Ever since they were first developed, mankind has struggled to contain the proliferation and use of nuclear weapons.  This has been complicated immensely by the relationship between the military and non-military uses of nuclear power.  The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) should not permit foreign investments that increase the risk that nuclear technologies will ever be used for military purposes, including, but not limited to, uses against the United States.   The CFIUS should not sanction investments that will predictably result in nuclear technologies being transferred to a country that has never witnessed a peaceful transition of political power, which has never held fair and free elections, and which cannot claim to represent long-term legitimacy, in a region fraught with instability and conflict."

2007 July 17. Kazakhstan Seeks a Nuclear Edge


Ken Silverstein, "As North Korea Gives Up Reactor, Kazakhstan Seeks a Nuclear Edge," Washington Babylon, Harpers, July 17, 2007.

If the deal goes through, KAP would not operate a nuclear fuel-enrichment plant but it would produce uranium hexafluoride, or "hex," which is "used in the uranium enrichment process that produces fuel for nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons." And obtaining hex would certainly be of keen interest to any country seeking to develop nuclear weapons as it could be used as feed for its enrichment plants.

Nucleonics Week, an industry publication, says the deal would begin transforming KAP "from a uranium producer into a diversified player on the global nuclear market." The article said that the "KAP buy-in to Westinghouse would be the first instance in which a part of the former Soviet civilian-military nuclear complex became a shareholder in a Western nuclear supplier company."

The sale of a stake in Westinghouse to a company in a third country requires the approval of the U.S. government. Today, Love’s group and three others, Greenpeace, Essential Action, and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, wrote to the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to oppose the sale on the grounds that it would "undermine efforts to limit nuclear proliferation, and . . . give sensitive nuclear technology to a brutal, repressive and undemocratic regime."

I ran the potential deal past Henry Sokolski, Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, and he also expressed opposition. "It would essentially be encouraging a government to get into the nuclear fuel-making business," he said. "That is always going to be a problem, especially in the case of a government like Kazakhstan’s."

The fact that Kazakhstan has previously given up its nuclear arsenal does not eliminate concerns. "Whatever the economic arguments might be, there always ought to be an overriding security imperative to keep nuclear-fuel making plants out of countries that don’t currently have nuclear weapons," he said. "If you have a fuel-making plant in the wrong place it doesn’t matter if there are international safeguards. You won’t be able to reliably know where all the nuclear material is and you don’t know where the expertise involved in running the plant may end up."

2007 July 25.  WP Story on destruction of Hare Krishna homes. 


Peter Finn, "Local Property Dispute Grows Into International Issue for Kazakhstan," Washington Post Foreign Service,  July 25, 2007; Page A09

SELEKSIA, Kazakhstan — The house where Maya Salakhutdinova lived is now a shell of ruined walls with broken cinder blocks and splintered wood spilling in a heap onto a narrow lane. Last month, her house and 11 others in this village, a secluded enclave about an hour from Almaty, Kazakhstan's commercial capital, were bulldozed by court order.  All the destroyed homes belonged to members of a Hare Krishna community, which has a temple in a converted farmhouse here, as well as 116 acres of farmland. A bulldozing in November leveled 14 Hare Krishna homes.

2007 July 23.  Report on confiscations of property in disputes over unregistered religious activity.

http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=999 .  Felix Corley, KAZAKHSTAN: Home confiscations to follow massive fines, July 23, 2007, Forum 18 News Service.

A mother and her young child have been barred from their home after a Court Executor sealed the Baptist church premises in Shymkent where they live, to prevent the church from meeting, Baptists have told Forum 18 News Service. The move followed the church's refusal to follow a court order halting its activity, because it does not wish to undergo state registration. This is part of an increasing trend of seizing homes and other property to punish unregistered religious activity. In Semey, Baptist Pastor Viktor Kandyba, his wife and their twelve children were threatened with the seizure of half their home by 18 July after he refused to pay a fine for leading unregistered worship. "No-one appeared or summoned us on 18 July, but this could come at any time," Kandyba complained to Forum 18. Cars and pigs have already been seized from other Baptists for non-payment of fines. Kazakhstan's senior religious affairs official, Yeraly Tugzhanov, denies absolutely that the fines and seizure of property represent persecution. "No-one is being persecuted for their faith," he told Forum 18.

2007 August 2.  Journalist Saken Tauzhanov dies after run over by a large truck


Journalist's Traffic Death Recalls Past Tragedies,  RFE/RL, 08/08/07.

Saken Tauzhanov was a hard-hitting journalist who criticized both the opposition and the government in his native Kazakhstan. His frequently caustic online articles made Tauzhanov more than a few enemies, which is why his death on August 2 raised many suspicions. Skeptics are questioning the official account of Tauzhanov's death. Kazakh authorities declared that when 37-year-old Tauzhanov was run over by a large truck as he crossed a street in downtown Almaty on August 2. .  . . some people who have seen other Kazakh journalists die in the same manner are suspicious.

Rozlana Taukina, who heads the Kazakh nongovernmental group Journalists in Trouble, tells RFE/RL's Kazakh Service that Tauzhanov's death is not unique among journalists. She notes that seven other journalists have died under similar clouds of doubt.  "The cause of all these deaths is always some sort of [mishap involving a vehicle], according to the versions given by our law enforcement agencies," Taukina says. "But too often it is these traffic accidents that cause the deaths of journalists who oppose the authorities." Taukina lists journalists who have been killed in traffic accidents since 2002, all but one of them struck by vehicles as they were walking on foot: "Starting with journalist Aleksei Pugaev (2002), who died in a car accident, he published the 'Eurasia' newspaper (2002); Nuri Muftakh (aka Moftak) (2002) was run over by a bus in the bus station parking lot; Askhat Sharipzhanov was hit by a car (2004); Yuri Baev in Uralsk, the chief editor of the newspaper 'Talap,' when he started to write reports about Kazakhgate (eds: an oil kickback scandal), he also was killed when he was struck by a car (2004); Batyrkhan Darimbet was killed in a car crash (2005), and we all know he was a former correspondent for Radio Free Liberty/Radio Liberty and was head of the newspaper 'Azat.' Saken Tauzhanov, known for his recent articles that clearly opposed the authorities, was also hit by a vehicle. It seems like too many accidents involving vehicles."

2007 August 12.  Takeover of Caravan weekly tabliod.


Anton Troianovski, "Kazakh Newspaper Supplanted: Weekly Caught Up in Presidential Family Fight Takes New Form, Washington Post, Sunday, August 12, 2007; Page A16.  MOSCOW — A popular Kazakhstan newspaper owned by the former son-in-law of President Nursultan Nazarbayev was forced to close last week, its editors said, and was replaced with a new, similarly styled weekly run by a man close to the president. The switch is the latest chapter in a murky family feud that has brought Kazakhstan's commitment to democracy under increasing foreign criticism.  Several editors of Caravan, a weekly tabloid with a circulation of about 150,000, said in interviews that they were informed Monday that their printer would no longer produce the newspaper and that their landlords were evicting them from their offices.  In the meantime, a new company run by Zhanay Omarov, former press secretary for Nazarbayev, has moved into empty office space above Caravan's newsroom in Almaty, the editors said. The company has hired away most of Caravan's 800 employees and set to work on a paper of its own.

2007 August 13. Toshiba announces sale of 10 percent of Westinghouse to Kazatomprom.

Toshiba announced (http://www.toshiba.co.jp/about/press/2007_08/pr1301.htm ) intention to transfer 10 percent ownership of Westinghouse's holding companies to Kazatomprom, at a price of US540 million dollars.  The sale will require completion of "necessary regulatory procedures" in the relevant countries, including approvals for technology transfers, "under U.S., Japanese and other countries' export control laws and international regulation of the industry."

The KEI statement on the announcement is here:


"KEI will oppose the licensing of nuclear fuel processing technologies to Kazatomprom.  Kazakhstan is a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, but still faces regulatory approvals in the US.  The political situation in Kazakhstan has gotten worse every year, despite years of promises of domestic reforms.   Political candidates, journalists, publishers, businessman, and others are murdered, kidnapped and intimidated.  Kazakhstan has never seen a peaceful transition of power.  President Nazarbayev is a brutal and autocratic dictator, and there is plenty of evidence he is not the stable regional partner portrayed by his public relations campaign. 

"Kazakhstan should not be encouraged to develop a new nuclear industry.  There is a deep culture of corruption and violence in Kazakhstan, and if there are any standards at all for sharing nuclear technologies, Kazakhstan would fail.  The police and other security forces are poorly paid and poorly trained.  The borders are not secure.  There has been a long history of reports of smuggling of narcotics and nuclear materials in Kazakhstan, even including links to the Khan network that sold nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya.   

"The licensing of Westinghouse nuclear technologies to Kazatomprom will accelerate the development of advanced fuel processing technologies, and pose risks for further proliferation of nuclear weapons, if not by Kazakhstan itself, then by countries that acquire the technology, legally or illegally, from Kazatomprom.

"The Bush administration should invite public comment on the proposed transfer of nuclear technology to this corrupt and undemocratic country."  


2007.  September 25.  Rudy Giuliani holds a fundraiser in Kazakstan. 

May Jacoby, "Giuliani Fund Raising Reaches Into Kazakhstan, September 25, 2007, WSJ.  Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's campaign is looking for political cash this week in an unlikely place: Resource-rich Kazakhstan, where the Republican presidential front-runner's law firm does substantial business in the often murky oil, gas and minerals industries.. . . Mr. Giuliani's partnership agreement guarantees him a minimum income of $1 million a year from the law firm. His firm's close ties to Kazakhstan, meanwhile, have generated some controversy, because the country's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been accused of antidemocratic practices. Questions have also been raised by U.S. prosecutors and good-government groups about whether Mr. Nazarbayev has taken kickbacks related to oil-industry deals. Mr. Nazarbayev has denied such allegations.  . . . The Almaty fund-raiser is being hosted by Greg Vojack, a Bracewell Giuliani partner who has been based in Kazakhstan since 1994.

2007 September 26-28.  Former President Bill Clinton invited Nazarbayev as one of his "featured attendees" to his 2007 Annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initative, in New York.


2007 October 2.  Kazakhstan Votes Authority to Cancel Energy Contracts

Press Release   Source: Bracewell & Giuliani LLP.  Kazakhstan Votes Authority to Cancel Energy Contracts, According to Bracewell & Giuliani's Gregory J. Vojack.  Tuesday October 2, 8:00 am ET.  ALMATY, Kazakhstan–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The lower house of the Kazakhstan Parliament voted unanimously to amend an existing law regarding subsoil use, granting the government the unilateral right to modify or cancel energy contracts in order to "protect the national interests … and safeguard the economic security of the Republic of Kazakhstan."