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Kazakhstan, Terrorism & Yellowcake!

Interesting Article: "Kazakhstan, U.S. Deepen Nuclear Security Ties" by NTI / Kazakhstan published Friday, December 2, 2011

An interesting article mentioned that the governments of Kazakhstan and the United States formalized an agreement to deepen their atomic security and safeguards collaboration. "The implementing arrangement is an important next step in our cooperation with Kazakhstan that advances our joint interest in ensuring the highest possible standards for nuclear material safeguards and security," Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman said in provided comments. "It reflects our nations' shared commitment to supporting the safe and secure use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes." The NNSA Next Generation Safeguards Initiative will oversee the new areas of activity with Kazakhstan. The initiative is focused on fostering ideas, technical know-how and equipment that can be used to improve and maintain global efforts to protect nuclear material. So, let us discuss a little bit about Kazakhstan.

FBI and NNSA officials recently concluded an antiterrorism drill that focused on responding to a simulated terrorist action involving radioactive substances. The "Cavalier Thunder" drill was the most recent in a number of U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) exercises that provide national, state and local officials as well as emergency responders with key training in assessing dangers, determining priorities, responding to catastrophes and dealing with the aftermath of a radiological terrorist strike. The programs are located at sites around the country that store "high-activity" radioactive or nuclear substances, according to an NNSA press release. Scenarios include extremist groups entering a scientific facility in an attempt to capture radioactive material. "These exercises are critical to improving cooperation among federal, state and local officials and we welcome the opportunity to work with organizations like the University of Virginia to ensure effective planning, communication and response coordination," NNSA Deputy Undersecretary Steven Aoki said in a released statement. One of the reasons for these exercises is that terrorist activities have recently increased in Kazakhstan. The Kazakh National Security Committee is probing the information on the possible connection between the terrorists killed in the village of Boraldai, Almaty Region, and the radical group The Jund al Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate. A group of five terrorists were killed in a special operation in the village of Boraldai on December 3. Two officials from the National Security Committee's special division Arystan were killed in that operation. In the meantime, the investigators found that Soldiers of the Caliphate was involved in the explosions that took place in Atyrau on October 31 (where a bomb went off in a garbage container and a suicide bomber blew himself up in the city's Saryak District). According to the Kazakh special services, the Soldiers of the Caliphate organization were created by citizens of Kazakhstan who are fighting abroad on the side of Afghani militants. Soldiers of the Caliphate is recognized as a terrorist organization and is banned in Kazakhstan. It should be emphasized that terrorism is an alien phenomenon for Kazakhstan; it contrasts with their traditions and has no historical roots in their society. For the past 20 years of its independent development Kazakhstan has pursued policy aimed at social stability, consolidation of interethnic and interfaith consent. The recent series of terrorism-related incidents are sending shock waves through the country as authorities confront the rising threat to stability posed by homegrown extremism. The current death toll from a string of cases with possible extremist links is now 37, including 14 members of law-enforcement bodies. Violent attacks began in May, when an attacker targeted Kazakhstan's intelligence agency in the western city of Aktobe in Kazakhstan's first suicide bombing, which officials blamed on organized crime. That was followed by an unexplained car explosion in Astana, a clash between security forces and suspects in western Kazakhstan that ended in a bloodbath in July, two explosions in the western oil hub of Atyrau in October, and a series of attacks in the southern city of Taraz in November. In a short few months, extremist violence has become a nationwide phenomenon. Authorities have responded by introducing a restrictive new religious law that rights watchdogs fear could stoke radicalization. Kazakhstan celebrates the twentieth anniversary of independence on December 16, the celebration of a declaration made just days before the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union. Kazakhstan, which has made a smooth transition from a Soviet-republic to a middle income country, is a top ten oil producer as well as a country rich in natural resources. Kazakhstan devised a foreign direct investment policy designed to foster economic diversity and advance a multifaceted foreign policy. Kazakhstan has been an important source of uranium for more than fifty years. Over 2001-2010, production rose from 2000 to 17,803 tonnes U per year, making Kazakhstan the world's leading uranium producer. Further mine development is under way with a view to annual production of 19,000 tU/yr in 2011 and potentially 30,000 tU by 2018. Production in 2011 in 9 months to September was 13,957 tU. Capacity is around 25,000 tU/yr, but in October 2011 Kazatoprom announced a cap on production of 20,000 tU/yr. Of its 17 mine projects, 5 are wholly owned by Kazatomprom and 12 are joint ventures with foreign equity holders, and some of these are producing under nominal capacity. Uranium exploration started in 1948 and economic mineralization was found is several parts of the country and this supported various mines exploiting hard rock deposits. Some 50 uranium deposits are known, in six uranium provinces. Reasonably Assured Resources plus Inferred Resources to US$ 130/kgU were 651,000 tU at 2009. In 2009 Kazakhstan became the world's leading source of mined uranium, producing almost 28% then and 33% in 2010. For 2011, 19,300 tU is projected. Kazakh plans for future nuclear power include large light-water reactors for the southern region, 300 MWe class units for the western part and smaller cogeneration units in regional cities. There are proposals for a new nuclear power plant near Lake Balkhash in the south of the country near Almaty. The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of Kazakhstan and the NNC were considering four potential sites for the 600 MWe nuclear power plant: on the shore of Lake Balkhash, in Aktau (west of country), Turgay, Kustanai (north) and Kurchatov. By 2011 Taraz in the south had been added. Early in 2010 Eastern Kazakhstan became the likely location, for a boiling water reactor to be built by JAPC, which operates two in Japan. This project is on the state program of nuclear industry development in Kazakhstan for 2010-20, which is being developed by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, NNC and Kazatomprom, and submitted for approval to the government.  In 2011 NNC said the Japanese ABWR was preferred technology for this, and Lake Balkhash is reported to be the favored site. With uranium at stake, it is important to clamp down on these terrorists that are slowly making waves this year.    



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