The Work of EES-11 In Kazakhstan
Reducing the Global Nuclear Danger
When the Soviets left in 1991, the infrastructure on which the area depended was gone. Without irrigation, all the trees in the city began to die. The buildings fell into disrepair. The commerce once conducted from large stores shifted to independent kiosks. The economy was weak.
This didn't diminish the character of the newly independent and proud Kazakhs. They were gracious and generous hosts to our scientists during our visits. Image 5: If you look closely, you will see a lady in grey sitting before a grey kiosk. She insisted on giving us one of the watermelons on the ground beside her.
Against this background of a strong people and a weak economy, Kazakhstan declared itself a non-nuclear state. But a non-nuclear state that was home to old nuclear test sites presented a problem: these old test sites could be a resource envied by other nuclear powers.
The problem then became finding the funding and technology to decommission the test sites. A win-win solution was realized by the USA's Nunn-Luger bill which, through the end of 1999, funded the destruction of the sites and allowed LANL's EES-11 to gather seismic data from the region.