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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA1867 2008-09-25 02:03 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana


DE RUEHTA #1867/01 2690203
R 250203Z SEP 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L ASTANA 001867 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/24/2018 
Classified By: Pol-Econ Chief Steven Fagin, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
1. (C) Participants from eight countries and various 
Kazakhstani government bodies and organizations attended 
Kazakhstan's second Global Initiative (GI) exercise of 2008 
during September 10-13.  The event, which took place at 
facilities of the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in 
Ust-Kamenogorsk, was dedicated to discussion of the physical 
protection of nuclear materials.  Kazakhstan expressed 
appreciation for USG participation.  Various high-level 
speakers, including Vice Minister of Energy and Mineral 
Resources Akchulakov, commented on Kazakhstan's leadership 
role in nuclear non-proliferation and successes safeguarding 
nuclear materials, such as lowly enriched uranium (LEU).  A 
Kazatomprom representative briefly commented on one attempted 
theft of nuclear materials that was prevented in 1995, but 
overall, there appeared to be some reluctance on the part of 
Kazakhstani officials to provide concrete details on their 
physical security efforts.  Conference participants were 
given a tour of the Ulba Metallurgical Plant, a 
uranium-pellet manufacturing facility which is apparently one 
of the most prosperous enterprises in eastern Kazakhstan. 
End Summary. 
2. (SBU) Kazakhstan hosted its second Global Initiative 
exercise of 2008 during September 10-13.  The event, called 
"Design Basis Threat," took place in Ust-Kamenogorsk at 
facilities of the Ulba Metallurgical Plant.  Over forty 
representatives from eight countries -- Cote d'Ivoire, 
Kazakhstan, Morocco, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine, the United 
Arab Emirates, and the United States - attended.  The USG was 
represented by an officer from State ISN/WMDT and a poloff 
from the Embassy.  Participants from various Kazakhstani 
government and quasi-government organizations -- including 
the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Kazakhstan's 
Atomic Energy Agency, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the 
National Nuclear Center, and Kazatomprom -- made 
presentations on the ways in which Kazakhstan ensures the 
protection of nuclear materials.  They described procedures 
at all levels of the Kazakhstani government, from the 
country's broad commitments to international treaties to how 
local authorities and the private sector work together to 
protect the Ulba Metallurgical Plant, which manufactures 
uranium pellets from lowly-enriched uranium. 
3. (SBU) The Kazakhstanis expressed appreciation for USG 
participation, and stressed that they looked forward to 
continuing close cooperation between Kazakhstan and the USG 
on the Global Initiative.  (Comment:  Kazakhstan has been  a 
very active member of the Global Initiative.  It hosted the 
third Global Initiative meeting in June 2007 in Astana, as 
well as two GI exercises in 2008.  It currently plans to host 
two more GI exercises in 2009.  End Comment.) 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
4. (SBU) During the event, Vice Minister of Energy and 
Mineral Resources Bolat Akchulakov noted that under President 
Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan had "strengthened the foundations" for 
a system of non-proliferation and called on other countries 
to follow Kazakhstan's example.  Kazatomprom Vice President 
Sergei Yashin stated that since the rising worldwide demand 
for energy is forcing countries to use more nuclear power, 
the physical protection of nuclear materials and facilities 
is an issue of great importance.  Other Kazakhstani 
government representatives commented on the physical security 
of several facilities and transport of nuclear materials in 
5.  (C)  Victor Pshenichniy, Deputy Director of Security at 
Kazatomprom, discussed ways to lower threats against nuclear 
facilities.  He stressed in particular the importance of 
paying reasonable wages to workers and maintaining good 
morale at high threat facilities.  He made mention of an 
incident at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in 1995 when 
Kazakhstani authorities purportedly prevented the theft of 
nuclear materials.  However, when asked for more details 
about such incidents by the delegate from Morocco, 
Kazakhstani seminar participants declined to comment. 
(Comment:  Overall, the Kazakhstani participants appeared to 
be somewhat reluctant to share detailed and technical 
information on nuclear security, even in the portions of the 
seminar devoted to "informal interaction.") 
6.  (SBU) Unfortunately, there were problems with the 
interpretation services provided at the event.  Several of 
delegations, notably the representatives from Morocco and 
South Korea, expressed frustration with this situation.  Only 
one presentation, given by the Chief of the Control and 
Accountancy Department at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant, 
Yevgeniy Yasko, was accompanied by English-language slides. 
Yasko, who has visited several facilities in the U.S. on 
Energy Department-sponso
red exchanges, emphasized how 
Kazakhstan used new technology, received as part of the 
Nunn-Lugar CTR program, to safeguard nuclear materials. 
7.  (SBU) Kazakhstan's national atomic energy company, 
Kazatomprom, was responsible for selecting the Ulba 
Metallurgical Plant to host the GI event.  The plant 
currently imports lowly enriched uranium (LEU) from Russia 
and processes it into fuel pellets, which are then re-sold to 
Russia for further processing.  Ulba was a well-chosen venue 
for the GI event from several points of view.  First, Ulba 
houses large quantities of LEU, resulting in regular IAEA 
monitoring of the plant.  Second, during Soviet times, Ulba 
was a secret facility, and access was completely restricted. 
8. (C) During the GI event, participants were given a tour of 
the plant, which was ostensibly shut down for IAEA 
inspections.  The two Kazakhstani Foreign Ministry 
representatives in attendance, one of whom stated that he is 
a physicist who has been working on nuclear issues for 15 
years, had never before been invited to visit Ulba.  They 
said that the security procedures for admission were very 
complicated.  The plant's equipment and the administrative 
buildings appeared modern, although the buildings and grounds 
of the uranium production facilities did not show extensive 
signs of renovation.  Kazatomprom's Victor Pshenichniy 
recalled the role of Ulba in the Soviet nuclear program with 
nostalgia and pride, and stated that a museum is being built 
on the grounds. 
9. (SBU) Participants also visited a resort operated by Ulba, 
located approximately 90 minutes by car from Ust-Kamenogorsk. 
 The resort is one of three reserved for use by company 
employees for vacationing.  It underwent extensive 
renovations two years ago, an indication of the prosperity of 
the company at the present.  Several employees from Ulba 
attending the conference emphasized that Ulba was one of the 
best companies in eastern Kazakhstan and offered plentiful 
opportunities for professional advancement. 


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