09ASTANA521, KAZAKHSTAN: PREVENTION OF NUCLEAR SMUGGLING

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA521 2009-03-20 08:41 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO5297
RR RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHNP RUEHPW
RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTA #0521/01 0790841
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 200841Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4992
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0775
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0462
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1478
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0871
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0958
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 000521 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, ISN/WMDT, AND ISN/ECC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/20/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL PTER MARR MNUC KNNP CH KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN:  PREVENTION OF NUCLEAR SMUGGLING 
EXERCISE HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR CONTINUED ENGAGEMENT 
 
REF: STATE 05431 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland, 1.4 (b/d) 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  The State Department's Preventing Nuclear 
Smuggling Program conducted a table-top nuclear smuggling 
exercise in Astana February 24-25.  Almost 20 Kazakshtani 
officials from eight government agencies attended the event. 
Kazakhstan is currently finalizing a national nuclear 
smuggling response plan, and the participants thanked the 
U.S. government for its assistance in enhancing Kazakhstan,s 
capabilities.  However, the Kazakhstanis admitted that many 
of their agencies lack the resources to effectively handle 
nuclear and radiological materials.  Securing orphan sources 
within Kazakhstan,s territory poses a particularly serious 
challenge.  Moreover, the Kazakhstani government is focused 
on keeping nuclear and radiological materials from entering 
Kazakhstan, rather than on domestic seizures and 
investigations.  The Committee for National Security (KNB) 
rejected the U.S. model of simultaneous national and local 
responses, and expressed little interest in expanding 
cooperation in prosecution and nuclear forensics.  Post 
recommends engaging working-level contacts on the importance 
of countering nuclear smuggling and pursuing short-term 
training opportunities for an expanded spectrum of 
recipients, to be followed next year by another table-top 
exercise.  END SUMMARY. 
 
EXERCISE EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS 
 
2.  (SBU) On February 24-25, the State Department's 
Preventing Nuclear Smuggling Program conducted a table-top 
nuclear smuggling exercise in Astana.  Almost 20 Kazakhstani 
officials from eight government agencies, including the 
Committee for National Security (KNB), Ministry of Energy and 
Mineral Resources (MEMR), Kazakhstan Atomic Energy Committee 
(KAEC), Ministry of the Interior (MVD), Ministry of Emergency 
Situations (MES), Kazakhstan Customs Control Committee 
(KCCC), the Ministry of Health (MOH), and Committee of State 
Sanitary and Epidemiological Control (SEC) attended.  The 
Kazakhstani participants actively described the roles, 
responsibilities, and capabilities of their agencies. 
 
IT TAKES THE UNITED STATES TO BRING KAZAKHSTANIS TOGETHER 
 
3.  (C) The atmosphere of the event was very positive and 
constructive.  The Kazakhstanis said they had taken steps to 
strengthen their ability to prevent nuclear smuggling, 
including cataloging Kazakhstani radioactive sources, 
implementing IAEA guidelines, and establishing inter-agency 
protocols for dealing with nuclear smuggling.  Various 
agencies expressed appreciation for U.S. training programs, 
technical assistance, and equipment provided through EXBS, 
DOE, and the joint DOD/FBI International 
Counter-proliferation Program (ICP).  KAEC,s representatives 
were particularly active participants and said they hoped to 
incorporate lessons from the exercise into their national 
nuclear smuggling response plan, which KAEC intends to 
present to the Kazakhstani government for review and approval 
within the next several months.  The senior KAEC 
representative, Tleu Dairbekov, thanked the U.S. government 
"for bringing us together )- as we could not have done this 
ourselves." 
 
KNB UNWILLING TO SHARE INFORMATION 
 
4.  (C) The KNB officials attending the workshop acknowledged 
that some of their KNB colleagues had received training 
through the ICP Program, but they had not participated 
themselves.  (COMMENT:  The KNB officials attending the 
exercise appeared to be relatively junior within their 
organizations.  END COMMENT.)  Although the KNB 
representatives sometimes appeared uncomfortable with the 
frank comments of Kazakhstani representatives from other 
 
ASTANA 00000521  002 OF 003 
 
 
agencies, they intervened only when discussions turned to law 
enforcement issues, asserting "we would take care of that." 
The KNB representatives did not provide any information on 
nuclear forensics techniques or information-sharing with 
other governments.  The most active KNB participant, Yerbol 
Talapov, privately complained to PolOff that, "sometimes 
other agencies resent us, but we do operate according to the 
laws of Kazakhstan and the guidelines of our organization." 
 
OTHER AGENCIES DISCUSS RESOURCE AND FUNDING CONSTRAINTS 
 
&#18
2;5.  (C) Some Kazakhstani participants expressed frustration 
when describing the difficulties their organizations face in 
dealing with radioactive and nuclear material, especially 
orphan sources.  Vyacheslav Klingenberg, a medical doctor and 
Chief of the Radiological Laboratory for the Astana Center of 
Sanitary-Epidemiological Examination, said he has worked for 
30 years in radiation safety.  He called his invitation to 
the exercise "a fortunate accident," since he had never 
participated in such an event before.  Klingenberg gave a 
short presentation using photos of nuclear and radiological 
materials that his team had been called in to secure.  He 
said that although most local SEC officials have no 
protective gear and no radiation pagers, they are often 
called in to investigate canisters with nuclear symbols that 
may contain hazardous substances.  Klingenberg and MVD 
representative Targyn Smagulov were particularly interested 
in the radiation pagers that U.S. local police carry.  The 
MOH's Zaure Akhmetova, a medical doctor who previously worked 
in the Karaganda region, said that Soviet orphan source 
materials are frequently found throughout Kazakhstan,s 
territory, but few agencies possess the funding and equipment 
to dispose of them properly. 
 
6.  (C) Participants raised concerns about poor public 
awareness and lack of nuclear and radiological specialists. 
Klingenberg maintained that many people confuse the nuclear 
symbol with the Mitsubishi logo.  Several participants 
explained that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, 
Kazakhstan tried to create special academic programs and 
institutions to train nuclear scientists, but such efforts 
failed.  (COMMENT:  PolOff has not met any nuclear 
specialists under 30 years old, and all of PolOff's 
interlocutors from MEMR, KAEC, the National Nuclear Center, 
SEC and Kazatomprom were trained under the Soviet system. 
The absence of a new generation of specialists is of 
particular concern in a country in which Soviet-era orphan 
sources of radiation are prevalent.  END COMMENT.) 
 
PRIORITY NUMBER ONE:  PREVENT SMUGGLING INTO KAZAKHSTAN 
 
7.  (C) Some Kazakhstani participants alleged that China has 
attempted to ship radioactive and nuclear waste to 
Kazakhstan, and indicated that preventing such shipments is a 
top priority for them.  However, they expressed doubt that 
Kazakhstan itself would be the target of a nuclear terrorist 
incident.  As KAEC's Tleu Dairbekov put it, "I am not aware 
of any threats of nuclear terrorism directed against 
Kazakhstan."  The Kazakhstanis acknowledged, however, the 
need for the country to be ready to counter nuclear terrorism 
directed at foreigners in Kazakhstan, especially during such 
events as the upcoming 2011 Asian Winter Games in Kazakhstan. 
 The Kazakhstanis said that if Customs uncovers an attempt to 
smuggle nuclear materials into Kazakhstan, they would simply 
send the shipment back, rather than taking steps to secure 
the materials and investigate the incident.  Representatives 
of most of the Kazakhstani agencies said that they would be 
criminally liable if they allowed nuclear or radiological 
materials into Kazakhstan, and claimed they do not have 
enough resources to secure and store such hazardous material. 
 
KNB REJECTS U.S. MODEL OF EARLY NATIONAL INVOLVEMENT 
 
8.  (C) The KNB representatives told the U.S. participants 
 
ASTANA 00000521  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
that in all matters relating to the national security and law 
enforcement aspects of nuclear smuggling, the KNB is the lead 
agency, and their organization "prefers to handle all 
incidents at the local level" by convening a regional 
taskforce, nominally led by a deputy akim (governor). 
Representatives from the KNB declined to comment on which 
state agencies would participate in a taskforce and how 
responsibilities would be divided.  When KAEC's Dairbekov 
asked detailed questions about how the U.S. handles national 
and local coordination, the KNB cut off the discussion.  The 
KNB also refused to discuss when they would refer incidents 
to central authorities or other agencies for help. 
 
9.  (C) Although we had invited the Procurator General's 
Office to participate in the event, they did not send a 
representative.  Moreover, although the Kazakhstani 
participants had specifically requested FBI participation and 
directed a number of detailed questions towards FBI 
specialists during the exercise, the Kazakhstani 
representatives admitted they do not prosecute individuals 
that they cannot explicitly link to smuggling.  The driver of 
a truck bringing nuclear or radioactive materials into 
Kazakhstan, for example, would not necessarily be prosecuted; 
the first target of investigation would be the shipping 
company. 
 
10.  (C) COMMENT:  Kazakhstan's overall national system for 
preventing nuclear smuggling remains one of the most advanced 
in the region.  The Kazakhstani participants in the exercise 
expressed hope that they would receive more training from 
U.S. experts and have the U.S. conduct similar events in 
Kazakhstan again in the future.  Post strongly encourages 
supporting these requests with a three part-strategy.  First, 
U.S. specialists should enhance engagement with their 
Kazakhstani counterparts.  Specific goals could include 
expanding Kazakhstani participation in the International 
Technical Working Group, promoting the ICP program, and 
providing training opportunities for MOH, MES, MVD, and 
Customs.  Second, Post suggests conducting a second table-top 
exercise in 2010 to test the Kazakhstan,s national nuclear 
smuggling response plan -) which should have been approved 
by then -- and strengthen the interagency relationships 
created through the February 2009 exercise.  Post also 
recommends greater engagement with the Kazakhstani government 
on the importance of preventing and investigating nuclear 
smuggling. 
 
11.  (C) COMMENT CONTINUED:  If a second table-top exercise 
is successful, Kazakhstan could hold a third exercise with 
real materials.  Post also recommends diversifying the target 
audiences of its programs, to include not only the KNB, the 
Ministry of Defense, MVD, and Customs, but also a full range 
of Kazakhstani partners, including MES, MOH, and KAEC.  In 
the long-run Kazakhstan itself may be willing to use the 
expertise it acquires to provide much needed assistance to 
other Central Asian states, which would also further promote 
its image as a leader in non-proliferation.  END COMMENT. 
HOAGLAND

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