The United Kingdom has denied entry to a Kazakh artist who does not have hands because he cannot provide fingerprints, he says.
Anti-nuclear activist Karipbek Kuyukov was due to travel to Great Britain last month to attend a conference and show his paintings, he told Tengrinews.
“I was denied a visa on the grounds that my fingerprints were of unsatisfactory quality. I was asked for additional fingerprints, although I physically could not give them any fingerprints. My sister who was supposed to accompany me received a visa because they took her fingerprints. Why do they need fingerprints anyway?” Kuyukov told Tengrinews. Photos he provided the embassy clearly showed he is disabled, he added, noting that he did not have any problems when he successfully applied for an American visa last year.
The British Consulate in Almaty did not respond to requests for comment on May 6 within the time frame promised. Repeated calls to the British Embassy in Astana went unanswered.
Kuyukov, 44, was born near the Soviet Union’s largest nuclear test site, at Semipalatinsk in what is now northeastern Kazakhstan, and attributes his disability -- he was born without hands -- to the radioactive fallout from the tests.
Fresh from hosting international talks on Iran’s nuclear program this month, Kazakhstan is quietly pushing its offer to host a global nuclear fuel bank that would serve non-proliferation efforts by providing safe access to low-enriched uranium.
Kazakhstan is hoping to reach agreement this year with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on hosting the fuel bank, Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov told the Express K newspaper on April 4.
Astana has long sought to position itself as a leader in non-proliferation efforts, citing President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s renouncing of nuclear weapons at independence and Kazakhstan’s Soviet nuclear legacy.
The government offered to host the nuclear fuel bank in 2011 and has been in talks with the IAEA. The site under consideration is the Ulba Metallurgical Plant, which has produced nuclear fuel pellets since Soviet times and – Idrissov pointed out – has never experienced a nuclear leak in four decades of operation.
International negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program broke down without result in Almaty on April 6.
“Over two days of talks, we had long and intensive discussions on the issues addressed in our confidence-building proposal put forward during the last round of talks with Iran in Almaty on 26-27 February,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who chairs a six-nation group negotiating with Iran, said in an emailed statement.
It became “clear” that the positions of the six-nation P5+1 group (consisting of the five UN Security Council permanent members – the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France – plus Germany) and Iran “remain far apart on the substance,” the statement said.
The last round of talks, in February, left some participants cautiously optimistic a breakthrough might be in the works. Those talks, which were also held in Almaty, unfroze an eight-month deadlock and, when they concluded, the parties agreed to keep talking.
This time there was no agreement to meet again; it was “agreed that all sides will go back to capitals to evaluate where we stand in the process,” Ashton’s statement said.
The sides are at odds over Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran insists is for peaceful purposes but the international community is concerned is aimed at making an atomic bomb.
As a second round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program opens in Almaty on April 5 analysts are not expecting major breakthroughs, but international negotiators will be pushing a proposal advanced when they met in the same venue in February.
Although there was no breakthrough, those talks in Kazakhstan – regarded as a fitting host due to its own non-proliferation efforts – unlocked an eight-month negotiations deadlock.
The six-nation P5+1 group (the five UN Security Council permanent members – the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France – plus Germany) had been pressing Iran to end medium-level uranium enrichment, close its Fordow underground enrichment facility, and hand over stockpiles of medium-enriched uranium – production of which marks a critical stage in bomb making – for international safe-keeping.
Tehran insists it is not pursuing nuclear weapons and that its program is for peaceful purposes. It has pushed for crippling international sanctions to be lifted without preconditions.
Negotiators have been tight-lipped about the February proposal. Reuters reported on April 3, citing unidentified Western officials, that the six-nation group has offered to ease gold sanctions and relax a petrochemicals embargo in return for Iran suspending medium-level uranium enrichment.
Chief Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili faces the press at the Iran P5+1 Iran talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan on February 27.
Kazakhstan seems to be the winner after the first round of renewed talks concerning Iran's nuclear ambitions.
There were fresh signs of life in the deadlocked process on February 27 as Iran and the P5+1 group – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France) plus Germany – agreed to meet again in Almaty, Kazakhstan's commercial hub.
Talks on technical issues will be held in Istanbul March 17-18 and the P5+1 will reconvene in Almaty on April 5 and 6, delegates announced at a closing press conference.
Negotiations broke down last June over seemingly irreconcilable differences: Iran demanded an immediate end to sanctions, without preconditions. Before any sanctions relief, the P5+1 wanted an immediate end to medium-level enrichment and the closure of the Fordow underground enrichment facility.
At the Almaty talks, delegates were tight-lipped about details of new proposals the P5+1 put on the table. Chief Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, avoided specifics at his closing press conference. He said that the P5+1 had moved closer to Iran's position on some issues but reiterated that there was still a long way to go before reaching any consensus.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who chairs the P5+1, refused to go into detail on any new proposals relating to sanction-easing, saying only that “We are looking now for the Iranians to have the opportunity to study” the new proposals before April.
While not giving much away about proceedings, the negotiators were effusive in their praise for their Kazakh hosts. Ashton thanked Kazakhstan for creating a comfortable environment for the talks. An official Iranian statement praised Kazakhstan for its “warm hospitality.”
In a recent post, I took a look at the interesting story behind the presence of NATO nuclear bombs at Turkey's Incirlik airbase and how they fit into Ankara's strategic and security calculations. Those interested in diving deeper into the question of Turkey's nuclear policy might want to take a look at a new report released today by the Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM), an Istanbul-based think tank. The takes a comprehensive look at Turkey's nuclear policy, from its current plans to start producing nuclear energy to its position on regional non-proliferation.
From the paper's executive summary of Turkey's non proliferation and nuclear diplomacy policies:
History has shown that states willing to commit resources and time can overcome the technical obstacles and successfully develop first generation nuclear weapons. However, most nuclear-capable states have chosen to remain non-nuclear. The decision to pursue nuclear weapons is rooted in technical capability combined with decision maker intent. At the moment, policy makers worry that an Iranian nuclear weapon will force its neighbors to explore the nuclear option. The oft-repeated argument claims that an Iranian nuclear weapon will lead to a regional arms race. Turkey, along with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are the countries most often cited as the countries most likely to develop indigenous nuclear capabilities to counter Iran.
The homepage of the (newly, and poorly, redesigned) Hurriyet Daily News features a fairly provocative headline today: "Turkey given possession of nuclear warheads, report says." So has Turkey just become the Middle East's newest nuclear power? The real story is a lot less sensational, yet also much more interesting, than that.
Turkey, as a member of NATO, has in fact hosted tactical nuclear weapons since the 1950's. Today, NATO keeps an estimated stockpile of 60-70 nuclear bombs at the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, down from 90 in 2001. Most of these (some 50) are designed to be delivered by United States aircraft (which are not housed at Incirlik and would have to be flown in and armed for any mission). The rest are earmarked for Turkish fighter jets, although it appears that Turkish pilots are currently not being trained for nuclear missions. (Hurriyet's sloppy story follows up on a more carefully written one that appeared the day before in the Vatan newspaper, written by Washington correspondent Ilhan Tanir.)
From an interesting report published at the end of last year by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which looked at the status of the the US's tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, especially in light of NATO's newly-developed "Strategic Concept," which places less importance on these weapons:
Has Georgia really become Washington’s poor relative, who spends hours waiting in the White House lobby while the party is swinging inside? One TIME Magazine reporter makes that argument in The Huffington Post, implying that, when approached by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili these days, Obama and other Western leaders apologetically point at their watches and run to a meeting with Russia's Dmitri Medvedyev.
Busy trying to cooperate with Russia on nuclear matters, Washington seems increasingly to avoid saying the G-word, and, when it does, the mention is not always quite what Tbilisi had in mind. On May 10, for instance, Obama declared that Georgia is no “obstacle” to proceeding with a US nuclear cooperation pact with Russia.