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(Yonhap Interview) Kazakhstani president proposes N. Korea use its denuclearization model

2016/11/09 17:39

By Yu Chul-jong and Song Sang-ho

MOSCOW/SEOUL, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed Wednesday that North Korea use the denuclearization model the Central Asian country has crafted over the last 25 years to pursue a world without nuclear weapons.

In a written interview with Yonhap News Agency, Nazarbayev also called on South Korean enterprises and investors to actively join a series of Kazakhstan's business projects, saying his country is ready to offer "full support" to them.

Nazarbayev, who has led his country since 1991, began his three-day state visit to Seoul on Wednesday. He is set to hold a summit with President Park Geun-hye on Thursday to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation in trade, investment, energy, heath care and other areas.

"As a frontrunner in the international anti-nuclear campaign and for the nonproliferation regime, and as a chair of the Hague Code of Conduct against ballistic missile proliferation (HCOC), Kazakhstan absolutely supports the construction of a world free from nuclear arms," he said. The HCOC is a global arrangement enacted in 2002 to prevent the proliferation of ballistic missiles.

"Over the past 25 years through its own practice, Kazakhstan has built an effective model to chart a path towards a nuclear-free world. We propose all countries, including North Korea, will use this model," he added.

The president also said he supports Seoul's policy to peacefully settle the North's nuclear issue.

Kazakhstan under the leadership of Nazarbayev has spearheaded international denuclearization efforts.

After its breakaway from the former Soviet Union in 1991, it gave up all of its nuclear weapons and opted to focus on economic development with investments and other forms of assistance from the advanced countries.

Kazakhstan used to have some 1,400 strategic nuclear weapons along with a large number of intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombers, putting itself among the world's top nuclear powers, according to reports.

Its decision for denuclearization has led to its rapid economic growth -- in stark contrast with the North that has been sticking to its nuclear development as a key security guarantor despite its threadbare economy.

Over the last 25 years, Kazakhstan has put itself at the vanguard of the efforts to zone off the Central Asia as a nuclear-free area and pushed for denuclearization beyond the region to achieve a nuclear-free world.

During his address at the U.N. General Assembly in September last year, Nazarbayev called for a nuclear-free world by 2045, when the international organization marks the centennial anniversary of its founding.

The so-called ATOM Project, an international campaign to abolish nuclear tests, has also been launched by Nazarbayev's suggestion. ATOM stands for "Abolish Testing."

   In line with his anti-nuclear efforts, the Kazakhstani leader has been critical of Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear arms, which Seoul, Washington and others have been pushing to stop through sanctions and diplomacy.

On the economic front, the Kazakhstani president expressed hopes that South Korean firms can participate in 10 business projects in various areas such as medicine, information and technology, and steel-making. The projects are estimated at US$2.5 billion in total, he explained.

"South Korea's economy and Kazakhstan's economy are not in a competition, but in a complementary relationship," he said.

Last year, two-way trade reached US$760 million with South Korea exporting cars, synthetic resins, electronic goods and other items to Kazakhstan and importing such goods as crude oil, ferroalloys and uranium.

This photo, provided by the Kazakhstani presidential office, shows Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev. (Yonhap) This photo, provided by the Kazakhstani presidential office, shows Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev. (Yonhap)