Gaddafi and Kazakhstan’s nuclear weapons

>>The former Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, tried to buy the Kazakh nuclear arsenal in the mid-1990s. Apparently

STORY: The timing is suspect, but a comment by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a former Kazakh foreign minister, that Muammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan dictator, essentially tried to buy Kazakhstan’s nuclear arsenal in the 1990s is worth noting.

Mr Tokayev made the comment on Nov. 29, the eve of a public holiday in Kazakhstan to celebrate Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev — the only president since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Mr Tokayev may just have been trying to curry favour by suggesting that it is only because of Mr Nazarbayev that the world didn’t have to deal with a nuclear-armed Libya.

The offer from Gaddafi, in 1992, to spend millions of dollars maintaining Kazakh nuclear missiles, left over when the Soviet Union collapsed, would have been tempting for a lesser politician, Mr Tokayev said. Instead, Mr Nazarbayev agreed to join a US-lead programme to disarm it nuclear arsenal, a decision that earned him international kudos.

It was also a decision that Mr Nazarbayev’s supporters say deserves to win him the Nobel Peace Prize.

The claim by Mr Tokayev is an interesting twist on an important segment of Kazakhstan’s post-Soviet history.


This article first appeared on Nov. 30, in issue 37 of the Silk Road Intelligencer weekly newssheet. Silk Road Inteliigencer is part of the Conway Bulletin series covering Central Asia & the South Caucasus. To subscribe for free to the newssheet, please click here

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