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Tajikistan

Overview

Last updated: March, 2016

Tajikistan emerged from a devastating civil war (1992-1997) as one of the poorest countries in Central Asia. The country's geographic location, porous borders, and robust drug trade raise concerns about the potential for its territory to be used for illegal transit of materials that could contribute to weapons of mass destruction programs. [1] However, Tajikistan does not currently produce or possess nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, and is a party to relevant nonproliferation treaties and organizations.

Nuclear

Tajikistan never hosted Soviet nuclear weapons on its territory, and its leaders have repeatedly expressed a commitment to disarmament and the prevention of WMD proliferation. [2] Tajikistan has been an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) member since 2001, and its Additional Protocol entered into force in 2004. Dushanbe acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1994 as a non-nuclear weapon state, has been a party to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) since 1998, and has signed the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. On 8 September 2006, Tajikistan joined four other Central Asian States— Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan — in signing a treaty creating a Central Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone (CANWFZ).

During the Soviet era, uranium ore mined in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan was milled into yellowcake at the Vostochnyy Rare Metal Industrial Association (Vostokredmet), previously known as the Leninabad Mining and Chemical Combine, in Chkalovsk. [3] [4] This facility was the first uranium processing plant in the Soviet Union. [5] The combine incorporated seven mines and several plants, most notably Combine No. 6 (Uranium Plant V), and processed up to 1,000,000 metric tons (t) of uranium ore per year to produce yellowcake for the Soviet nuclear power and defense industries. [6] Reportedly, Chkalovsk once had the capability to convert uranium concentrate into uranium hexafluoride, and housed a secret uranium enrichment plant built in 1940. [7] The state enterprise Vostokredmet has refocused production on gold, silver, ferromolybdenum, and the manufacturing of various goods, though enterprise officials have expressed interest in restarting its uranium mining operations. [8]

Tajikistan stopped mining uranium in 1992, and by law the size of its uranium reserves is considered a state secret. [9] Though the northern region, which includes Chkalovsk, is reportedly depleted of uranium, Tajik officials claim that the Pamir region in the south and east may contain huge uranium reserves. [10] Many media outlets have suggested that Tajikistan possesses 13% of the world's uranium deposits following a reported statement to this effect by President Emomali Rahmon. [11] According to the IAEA, however, only two depleted uranium deposits exist in Tajikistan, although the Agency has indicated that it is unable to offer a full survey of the deposits owing to incomplete data. [12]

In 2008, the Tajik government amended legislation that had prohibited foreign companies from participating in the state's uranium industry, and ChineseIranian, and other foreign companies have discussed potential projects with the Tajikistani government. [13] In 2014, Tajik news agencies reported that the Tajik government had endorsed a draft Memorandum of Understanding on future collaborations between French company Areva Mines and the Tajik Main Geology Directorate to explore uranium and other rare-earth metal deposits. [14] Uranium mining has not resumed, however, and a representative from Areva indicated that talks have come to an end. [15]

The Argus nuclear research reactor, completed in 1991 in Dushanbe, was designed to run on 21% enriched uranium, but was never loaded with fuel. Although government officials initially expressed interest in obtaining fuel and operating the reactor, in 2007 Tajikistan asked the IAEA to dismantle the reactor and replace it with a particle accelerator. [16] Until its dismantlement is complete, the reactor will remain under IAEA safeguards. [17]

While Tajikistan has no operational nuclear reactors, there are strong radiation sources on Tajik territory as a result of Soviet-era industrial applications. [18] In its 2012 Environmental Performance Review of Tajikistan, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe announced that approximately 54.8 million tons of radioactive waste from Soviet-era uranium mining activities (mostly process residue tailings) are housed in unsecured facilities - many of them near the large city of Khujand. [19] The United Nations and the IAEA have expressed concern over the detrimental impact of this unsecured waste on the environment and ecology of Tajikistan; in response, in July 2014, the leadership of Tajikistan adopted a national concept on the rehabilitation of uranium tailings during the ten-year period from 2014 to 2024. [20] In June 2012, the Tajik Parliament requested assistance from its neighbors and international organizations, beyond the funding already received from the Eurasian Economic Community (EEC). [21] The IAEA has helped Dushanbe to manage the waste and seek donor funding. According to the Tajik state news agency, by the end of 2014, Tajikistan had received $6.5 million in assistance from the IAEA for various projects, including the proper disposal of uranium waste and efforts to ensure the materials' security. [22]

The security of Tajikistan's borders has long been a concern among international groups. In 1992, Tajikistan signed the Minsk Accord on CIS Export Control Coordination, by which the state parties agreed to create national export control systems, coordinate their efforts to control exports of materials used in the production of weapons of mass destruction, and create uniform control lists based on existing international export control regimes. [23] CIS border guards have participated in monitoring the border for illegal smuggling and trans-border crime. [24] As has been the case with many multilateral agreements among CIS countries, however, further efforts are needed to coordinate and implement export control policies among the states of the region. [25]

In December 2014, the European Union provided 1.5 million Euros to Tajikistan's Nuclear and Radiation Safety Agency in support of a project to introduce radiological detection capabilities at six border and railway sites. [26] The EU has also provided Tajik officials with related training since 2013 and will continue to do so under the terms of the 2014 supply contract. [27] The United Nations, too, has made efforts to support the initiatives of countries in the region in implementing UNSCR 1540, including Tajikistan. [28] Tajikistan submitted its initial report to the 1540 Committee on its implementation of UNSCR 1540 in 2012. [29]

The United StatesRussia, and others have also assisted Tajikistan in strengthening its border security. Under the Export Control and Border Security (EXBS) program, the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), and other programs, the United States has provided funding, training, and equipment to improve border controls and secure radioactive sources. [30] Russia controlled the Tajik-Afghan border from 1993 to 2005. [31]

Tajikistan has also taken steps to strengthen its own border security and prevent trafficking: in 2005, Tajikistan ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, and in 2014 Tajikistan agreed to participate in a peer review event with Kyrgyzstan organized by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, UNODA, and the 1540 Committee to assess that country's National Implementation Action Plan (NAP). [32] This event is scheduled to occur in 2015. [33]

Biological

There is no evidence to suggest that Tajikistan produces or possesses biological weapons. Tajikistan is a party to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). During the Soviet era, Tajikistan worked under the USSR Ministry of Health to administer public health-related services and institutions, including the Anti-Plague (AP) System. Tajikistan's one Regional AP Station opened in 1956 in Dushanbe, and reported directly to the AP Institute in Almaty, Kazakhstan. [34] Despite the connection between some AP facilities and the Soviet biological weapons program, there is no evidence that Tajikistan's AP station worked on any aspects of the Soviet biological weapons program.

During the Tajik civil war (1992-1997), researchers remaining at the Dushanbe AP station feared what could happen if the dangerous pathogens they worked with should be misused by the warring factions, and preventatively destroyed the station's culture collection. [35] Following the loss of its culture collection, the Dushanbe AP Station worked exclusively on cholera. [36]

With the Soviet Union's collapse, funding from Moscow was discontinued, as were collaborations with the AP network and other scientific institutes around the former Soviet Union. Most scientists and trained personnel left Tajikistan for Russia and other republics, leaving both a funding and an expertise shortage. Tajikistan joined the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) in 2003. The ISTC has since funded projects at the AP station and other biological institutes in Tajikistan to keep scientists well-employed, and to improve biosafety and biosecurity while furthering science. [37]

Chemical

There is no evidence to suggest that Tajikistan produces or possesses chemical weapons. Tajik officials have stated that although Tajikistan has the capability to produce chemical precursors and toxic substances for industrial purposes, Dushanbe has not produced chemical weapons and will not do so in the future. [38] Tajikistan is a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

Missile

Tajikistan does not possess ballistic missiles, and lacks the industrial capability to produce them. However, a Soviet-era plant in the city of Taboshar once manufactured solid-propellant rocket motors for Soviet strategic missiles. [39] Tajikistan subscribes to the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC).

Sources:
[1] Togzhan Kassenova, "Central Asia: Regional Security and WMD Proliferation Threats," www.unidir.org.
[2] UN, "Central Asian nations highlight need for disarmament during UN debate," UN News Centre, September 2009, www.un.org.
[3] International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, "International Science and Technology Center Project #245 Radleg," 1996, Kurchatov Institute, www.kiae.ru.
[4] O. Tikunov, "Uranovyye rudniki v Tadjikistane nakhodyatsya na grani zakrytiya," Russkoye Byuro Novostey, 1 February 1999.
[5] Marlene Laruelle and Sebastien Peyrouse, Globalizing Central Asia: Geopolitics and the Challenges of Economic Development (New York: Routledge, 2015), p. 207.
[6] International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, "International Science and Technology Center Project #245 Radleg," 1996, Kurchatov Institute, www.kiae.ru; Ostankino Television First Channel Network, 9 December 1993, in "Uranium Plant Changes to Gold Refining Production," FBIS Document JPRS-TND-93-001, 6 January 1994; O. Tikunov, "Uranovyye rudniki v Tadjikistane nakhodyatsya na grani zakrytiya," Russkoye Byuro Novostey, 1 February 1999.
[7] JPRS-TND-92-002, Joint Publications Research Service, 31 January 1992, pp. 50-51; JPRS-TND-92-003, Joint Publications Research Service, 14 February 1992, pp. 32-33.
[8] Leninabadskaya Pravda, 11 March 2006, in "Tajik uranium enterprise struggles to survive," BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 20 March 2006.
[9] Togzhan Kassenova, "Uranium Production and Nuclear Energy in Central Asia: Assessment of Security Challenges and Risks," China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, Vol. 8.2, 2010, p. 227.
[10] Viktoriya Panfilova, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 11 January 2011, in "Russia: Iran seeks uranium for nuclear programme in Latin America, Central Asia," BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 16 January 2011.
[11] "EU gives money to Dushanbe for uranium burial sites," BBC, December 18, 2012, www.bbc.com.
[12] "Uranium Deposits in Tajikistan," IAEA INFCISWorld Distribution of Uranium Deposits (database), IAEA Integrated Nuclear Fuel Cycle Information Systems, accessed June 24, 2015, infcis.iaea.org.
[13] Togzhan Kassenova, "Uranium Production and Nuclear Energy in Central Asia: Assessment of Security Challenges and Risks," China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, Vol. 8.2, 2010, p. 228; "Tajikistan, China sign several cooperation accords," BBC Monitoring Central Asia Unit, 4 June 2009 Thursday, www.lexisnexis.com;"Iran to allocate 1.5m dollars to set up geological data centres in Tajikistan," BBC Monitoring Central Asia Unit Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 20 January 2010, www.lexisnexis.com.
[14] Zarina Ergasheva, "Tajik Main Geology Directorate, France's Areva Mines expected to sign MoU," Asia-Plus, 14 July 2014, www.news.tj; Main Geology Directorate of Tajikistan, "Meeting with the Ambassador of France," Press release, Government of Tajikistan, July 11, 2014, www.gst.tj.
[15] "Tajikistan to study uranium from rare earth deposits," World Nuclear News, July 10, 2014, www.world-nuclear-news.org.
[16] "Tadzhikistan za nedeliu," IA Volgainform, 16 August, 2007; Anna Malikova, "IAEA approves 5 projects in Tajikistan," CentralAsiaOnline.com, 3 April 2009.
[17] "The Annual Report for 2013: Additional Annex Information," Report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, 2014, www.iaea.org.
[18] "Tajikistan's experience in recovering orphans sources and installing secure storage facilities," Presentation delivered at the Technical Meeting on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources with regard to Long Term Strategies for the Management of Disused Sealed Radioactive Sources, February 27- March 1, 2012, www-ns.iaea.org.
[19] "Tajikistan: Environmental Performance Reviews, Second Review," Report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, 2012, www.unece.org.
[20] "Tajikistan: Environmental Performance Reviews, Second Review," Report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, 2012, www.unece.org; "Central Asian Nations Address Uranium Mining Legacy," Press release, International Atomic Energy Agency, July 30, 2012, www.iaea.org; Office of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, "Meeting of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan," Press release, Government of Tajikistan, July 29, 2014, www.prezident.tj.
[21] IAEA Staff Report, "Central Asian Countries Face Radiological Legacy," International Atomic Energy Agency, 28 June 2007, www.iaea.org.
[22] "IAEA: Monitoring of the Uranium Waste Industry," Khovar: National Informational Agency of Tajikistan, December 15, 2014, khovar.tj.
[23] Minsk Accord on CIS Export Control Coordination, Russian-language version.
[24] "CIS border services conduct special operation to prevent trans-border crime in Central Asia," Asia-Plus, September 13, 2014, afisa.news.tj.
[25] Sergei Ryabikin, "Representatives of CIS States Discuss Export Control Over Products Used for the Creation of Mass Destruction Weapons," RIA Novosti Hotline, 29 October 1997; Gary K. Bertsch and William C. Potter, Dangerous Weapons, Desperate States: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, (Oxon, UK: Routledge, 1999), 19.
[26] Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Tajikistan, "European Union Supports Nuclear Security in Republic of Tajikistan," Press release, December 4, 2014, eeas.europa.eu.
[27] Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Tajikistan, "European Union Supports Nuclear Security in Republic of Tajikistan," Press release,, December 4, 2014, eeas.europa.eu.
[28] Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh, "Implementing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia," Final Report of the 2nd Expert Meeting Addressing Pillar II of the Strategy, United Nations, March 2013, www.un.org; Justin Friedman, "The Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Program," Report, United States Department of State, 2009, www.state.gov.
[29] "The initial launch meeting of the peer review between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan on UNSCR 1540 implementation," Information note by the 1540 Committee Experts, United Nations, December 2014, www.un.org.
[30] "U.S. Department of Energy Delegation Furthers Collaboration with the Government of Tajikistan," U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan Press Release, 19 November 2004, http://dushanbe.usembassy.gov; "USA Grants 500,000 Dollars Worth of Aid to Tajik Border, Customs Committees," Interfax, 18 February 2003, in BBC Monitoring International Reports, 18 February 2003.
[31] China View, "Russia transfers Afghan-Tajik border control to Tajikistan" 1 September 2005, http://news.xinhuanet.com.
[32] Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, "Re. No. 15643 (4)-25.8 of 7 April 2009," Reply from Government of Republic of Tajikistan to the Report of the Secretary General on Measures to Prevent Terrorists from Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction (A/69/138), 2009, www.un.org.
[33] Permanent Representative of Tajikistan to the United Nations, "National report of the Republic of Tajikistan on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004)," Report to the 1540 Committee, accessed June 24, 2015, www.un.org; "The initial launch meeting of the peer review between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan on UNSCR 1540 implementation," Information note by the 1540 Committee Experts, United Nations, December 2014, www.un.org.
[34] Alevtina Izvekova, "Issue Brief: International Assistance for Anti-Plague Facilities in the Former Soviet Union to Prevent Proliferation of Biological Weapons," Nuclear Threat Initiative, June 2005, www.nti.org.
[35] Alevtina Izvekova, "Issue Brief: International Assistance for Anti-Plague Facilities in the Former Soviet Union to Prevent Proliferation of Biological Weapons," Nuclear Threat Initiative, June 2005, www.nti.org.
[36] James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies Staff, Interview with Tajik AP scientist, 6 May 2003.
[37] International Science and Technology Center, www.istc.ru; Alevtina Izvekova, "Issue Brief: International Assistance for Anti-Plague Facilities in the Former Soviet Union to Prevent Proliferation of Biological Weapons," Nuclear Threat Initiative, June 2005, www.nti.org; Agricultural Research Service, "2013 Annual Report: USDA/ARS and the International Science and Technology Center," Report on Research Project #414805, United States Department of Agriculture, 2013, ars.usda.gov; International Science and Technology Center, 2015, www.istc.ru.
[38] "Letter dated 11 January 2005 from the Permanent Representative of Tajikistan to the United Nations addressed to the Chairman of the Committee (S/AC.44/2004/(02)/101)," UN Security Council, 12 January 2005, www.un.org. [24] Richard F. Kaufman and John P. Hardt (eds.), The Former Soviet Union In Transition, Joint Economic Committee Congress of the United States, 1993, p. 788.
[39] Richard F. Kaufman and John P. Hardt (eds.), The Former Soviet Union in Transition, Joint Economic Committee Congress of the United States, 1993, p. 788.

Get the Facts on Tajikistan
  • Has 55 million tons of uranium tailings and other radioactive waste
  • Joined the CWC in 1995 and the BTWC in 2005
  • Has received funding, training and equipment from the United States to combat nuclear trafficking

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2016.