WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Kazakhstan marked its 12th year of independence Tuesday and at a Washington symposium celebrated its decision to be free of nuclear weapons.
In the symposium it urged other nations to follow its example.
"It could have been very different -- there was no shortage of emissaries saying, 'you will be the first Muslim nation with nuclear weapons,'" said Kanat Saudabayev, Kazakhstan's ambassador to Washington.
Kazakhstan voluntarily dismantled the fourth-largest nuclear arsenal on the planet after it declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It has shed a full quiver of nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles, bombs, a heavy bomber fleet, thousands of pounds of weapons-grade uranium, and plutonium-production facilities.
"We have earned the moral right to call on the world to follow our experience," said a letter from Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, which was read by Saudabayev.
The symposium on non-proliferation was joined by U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind. and former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., architects of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which orchestrated the removal of Kazakhstan's nuclear program.