Obama says securing Semipalatinsk test site was made possible thanks to outstanding leadership of N. Nazarbayev and people of Kazakhstan

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WASHINGTON. March 28. KAZINFORM  U.S. President Barack Obama hailed securing all nuclear materials at the former Soviet nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan as an example of "extraordinary cooperation" that would "make sure that loose nuclear material is not vulnerable to smuggling or to potential terrorist plots."

"We have been able to do this in part because of the outstanding leadership of President Nazarbayev and the people of Kazakhstan. We've also been able to do it because the United States and Russia over the last several years have shown ourselves to have a mutual interest in making sure that nuclear materials are secured and that they do not fall into the wrong hands," Obama told reporters with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at his side.

 According to Silk Road Newsline, a total of 467 nuclear tests have been conducted between 1949 and 1989 at the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, including 340 underground and 125 atmospheric tests where at least 616 nuclear bombs and other nuclear charges have been detonated. It is estimated that the radioactive fallout from Semipalatinsk nuclear testing had a direct impact on the health of about 200,000 local residents in Kazakhstan. Semipalatinsk test site was closed on August 29, 1991 by a historical decree No. 409 signed by Nazarbayev.

"As President of Kazakhstan indicated, this was a major site for nuclear operations during the Cold War," Obama said. "There was a lot of loose nuclear material that was vulnerable to potential smugglers, to potential infiltration.  And as a consequence of extraordinary cooperation between our three countries that actually predates my administration, but was accelerated as a consequence of this Nuclear Security Summit, we've been able to effectively lock down and secure all this vulnerable material."

"It gives you a specific example of the kind of progress that we're making.  We're going to need to make more progress over the next several years.  But I am confident that we can actually meet the goal that we set in the first Washington summit, which is in four years to have made extraordinary progress in making sure that loose nuclear material is not vulnerable to smuggling or to potential terrorist plots," he said.

Obama, Nazarbayev and Medvedev attended the "2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit" in Seoul, South Korea, that brought together some 50 world leaders to focus on such areas of discussion as cooperative measures to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism, protection of nuclear materials and related facilities and prevention of illicit trafficking of nuclear materials. The Seoul Summit will build on the results of the successful first Nuclear Security Summit convened by Obama in 2010 in Washington.

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