Togzhan KassenovaMar 14, 2022
How Kazakhstan Gave Up the Bomb
Stanford University Press 2022
This month we are delighted to host Togzhan Kassenova on our NBN Central Asian Studies podcast. Dr Kassenova is the author of the beautifully researched yet very readable Atomic Steppe: How Kazakhstan Gave Up the Bomb (Stanford University Press, 2022).
Atomic Steppe tells the untold true story of how Kazakhstan said no to the most powerful weapons in human history. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent Central Asian republic suddenly found itself with the world's fourth largest nuclear arsenal on its territory. Would it give up these fire-ready weapons--or try to become a Central Asian North Korea? This book takes us inside Kazakhstan's extraordinary and little-known nuclear history from the Soviet period to the present.
Equipped with intimate personal perspective and untapped archival resources, Togzhan Kassenova introduces us to the engineers turned diplomats, villagers turned activists, and scientists turned pacifists who worked toward disarmament. With thousands of nuclear weapons still present around the world, the story of how Kazakhs gave up their nuclear inheritance holds urgent lessons for global security.
Togzhan Kassenova is senior fellow at the University at Albany, SUNY and a nonresident fellow of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Follow her on Twitter @tkassenova
Luca Anceschi is Professor of Eurasian Studies at the University of Glasgow, where he is also the editor of Europe-Asia Studies. Follow him on Twitter @anceschistan