In his address to the International Conference for a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said, "as a human being, as Director General of the IAEA - and not least as a citizen of the only country ever to experience the unspeakable horror of nuclear bombs - I believe with all my heart and soul that these horrific weapons must be eliminated." He spoke at the opening of the Conference held in Astana, Kazakhstan on 12 October 2011.
The Conference's opening address was delivered by Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It was followed by a video address by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and a statement by US President Barack Obama, delivered by US Deputy Secretary of Energy, Daniel Poneman. Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Organization, also addressed the Conference.
In his remarks, the IAEA Director General commended Kazakhstan's very important contribution to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. He noted that, under the leadership of President Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan had renounced the nuclear weapons which it inherited from the Soviet Union and closed the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site, where over 450 underground and atmospheric nuclear tests had been conducted. Kazakhstan had joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear-weapon State and concluded both a safeguards agreement and an additional protocol with the IAEA.
Kazakhstan also "played a significant role in establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia" in 2009, the Director General said. The Treaty establishing the nuclear-weapon-free zone created an important precedent in that it is the only arms control Treaty to date that requires its parties to bring into force an additional protocol to their IAEA safeguards agreements, he added.
The Director General also reiterated his own Nagasaki Commitment to work for a world free of all nuclear weapons, which he made last year at the Nagasaki Peace Ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan. The Nagasaki Commitment foresees four active roles for the IAEA: to play a role in nuclear disarmament through verification, to support the creation of new Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones and help to implement them, to continue verification activities to check that nuclear materials from civilian nuclear programmes are not diverted to nuclear weapons, and to redouble efforts to work with countries to help prevent nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorist groups.
The International Conference on a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World, held in Astana, Kazakhstan from 12 to 13 October 2011, marked the 20th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site.
The Treaty establishing the Central Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone is supported by the IAEA and forbids the development, manufacture, stockpiling, acquisition or possession of any nuclear explosive device within the zone. Peaceful uses of nuclear energy are permitted if placed under enhanced IAEA safeguards. The Treaty also requires Parties to meet international standards regarding security of nuclear facilities. This is intended to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism and prevent smuggling of nuclear and radioactive materials in the region.