Friday, October 13, 2006

For Heaven's sake, why?

Can this be true?
  1. Six of the former Soviet Republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) have created a nuclear-free zone in Central Asia.
  2. The United States, Britain and France refused to be represented at the signing ceremony, which was held in Almaty, the Kazakh capital.
  3. The reason for the three western nuclear powers not attending was a 1992 treaty between Russia and four of the five signatories. The treaty allowed nukes to be deployed in the region.
Now, this area was the centre for Soviet nuclear experiments. The research centre at Semipalatinsk, in Kazakhstan was used (between 1949 and 1989) for some 500 nuclear detonations. In other words, about 2o,ooo Hiroshimas. The Kazakh President ( Nursultan Nazarbayev) might know what he is talking about: he reckoned that one and a half million Kazakhs have suffered health problems as a result of those tests, while huge areas have been sterilised for agricultural use.

So, who, asks Malcolm, is the main beneficiary of the 1992 Treaty? It sure ain't Russia.

Surprise, surprise! According to the May issue of Foreign Affairs, Manas in Kyrgyztan is one of the six most important US bases around the world. Its location gives the US a foothold near the Caspian oil reserves, as well as being adjacent to the Russian and Chinese borders. In an extreme scenario, were the US to strike at Iran, the Manas base would be critical. Sphere: Related Content

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