The Atom Project Presents Two Exhibits: “A Lesson In Peace: Dismantling The Soviet Nuclear Weapons Program In Kazakhstan” And “I Have Only My Heart To Hold You: The Art Of Karipbek Kuyukov” In Washington, DC, December 10-12, 2012

December 10, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC, December, 10, 2012 – In August 2012, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev addressed a major international parliamentary conference in Astana and launched The ATOM Project as a vehicle to generate global popular support for the permanent end to nuclear weapons testing and, ultimately, the abolition of nuclear weapons. The ATOM Project is a new initiative of President Nazarbayev, the result of more than 21 years of his commitment and actions to achieve global nuclear disarmament.

For four long decades, against its will and without deep knowledge of what was going on, Kazakhstan, then a Soviet republic, was used as the center for Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons testing program. From 1949 to 1991, the USSR conducted more than 450 nuclear weapons tests at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in eastern Kazakhstan, bringing illness and death to more than 1.5 million people in the region and radioactive pollution to a huge swath of land.

On August 29, 1991, President Nazarbayev shut down the Soviet nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk and upon Kazakhstan’s independence, against the advice of many within and outside of Kazakhstan, President Nazarbayev renounced all nuclear weapons in the country. Since that time, Kazakhstan has fully rid itself of all nuclear weapons on its territory — the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal. The infrastructure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site has been dismantled.

On August 29, 2012, President Nazarbayev launched the ATOM Project as a mechanism to unite global public support for a permanent end to nuclear weapons testing and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons by all countries. The ATOM Project is an international campaign developed to provide the public with information about the risks and consequences of nuclear tests for both the environment and, most importantly, the human race.

Now, the ATOM Project is sponsoring two exhibits in Washington, D.C. that relate to Kazakhstan’s history of nuclear disarmament. “A Lesson in Peace” is a photographic exhibit that details the past 21 years of Kazakhstan’s nuclear disarmament history, while “I have only my heart to hold you” is an art exhibit that features the paintings of Karipbek Kuyukov. Earlier, the exhibitions were presented at the UN Offices at Geneva, Switzerland, and at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, The Netherlands.

“We firmly believe that the stronger the public support generated by the ATOM Project through its educational and outreach efforts and its international campaign aimed at collecting petition signatures against nuclear weapons testing, the greater opportunity it will have in attracting additional support for the efforts of governments, parliaments, non-governmental organizations and activists, to push for more decisive steps towards global nuclear disarmament, ” Roman Vassilenko, Deputy Director of the Nazarbayev Center , says. “As a result, it will help influence leaders of world powers to make further steps towards achieving peace and a world free from nuclear weapons. We call on all people of good will to support the ATOM Project and to make a world without nuclear weapons our most important goal for a brighter future.”

“In my paintings,” Karipbek Kuykov explains, “I try to express all the pain that nuclear weapons bring. I was born in the nuclear test site zone. I was born without arms, but I have the power and strength to call on the world to stop the development of nuclear weapons programs. Through my paintings and my personal experience I can tell the story of our nation as a lesson and example for other countries to follow.”

Karipbek Kuyukov is an artist working in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. He is one of the many survivors of nuclear weapons testing conducted at Semipalatinsk. He was born in 1968, in Egindybulak Village in the Karaganda region, only 90 kilometers (54 miles) from the nuclear test site. Due to the effects of nuclear radiation, Kuyukov was born without arms.

Kuyukov overcame many challenges on his journey to secure an education and career. Ultimately, he earned a degree in accounting and also became an acclaimed artist. Now, he is continuing his lifelong work as a non-proliferation activist by serving as The ATOM Project’s Honorary Ambassador and calling on the world’s leaders to abolish nuclear testing and achieve the decades-old dream of nuclear disarmament.

The exhibits, organized with the support of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Washington, DC, will open Monday, December 10, 2012 at 6:00 pm, at the Carnegie Institution for Science, 1530 P Street NW, Washington, D.C. The opening will be followed by a reception.

The ATOM Project exhibits are free and open to the public December 11 and 12, from 9 to 5 pm.


The ATOM Project is being implemented by The Nazarbayev Center. The Nazarbayev Center was established by a Decree of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan on January 23, 2012 as a multifunctional research and educational institution. The Center is designed as the premier presidential center of its kind, dedicated to advancing world peace through humanitarian engagement and cutting-edge research, education, and awareness initiatives. The Center is located in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

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The ATOM Project is an international petition campaign designed to unify global public opinion against nuclear weapons testing that features the tragic and hopeful stories of survivors of nuclear testing from the region of Semey, Kazakhstan, the site of more than 450 Soviet-era nuclear weapon tests. The survivors and their descendants continue to suffer from illness, disease and severe deformities caused by exposure to nuclear radiation during and after the testing, which took place 100 miles outside of the city, then called Semipalatinsk.

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CONTACT IN WASHINGTON, DC: Meruyert Saudabay, cell +15712150774,
CONTACT IN ASTANA: Artur Abubakirov, cell +77019336752,