Fact Sheet

Kazakhstan Nuclear Facilities

Kazakhstan Nuclear Facilities

Save to My Resources

Want to dive deeper?

Visit the Education Center

Kazakhstan Nuclear Facilities updates and map will be available in late 2021


Around 15 to 20% of the world’s explored uranium reserves are in Kazakhstan. [1] The country is the world’s largest producer of uranium, surpassing Canada and Australia in 2009. In 2011, Kazakhstan mined 35% of the world’s natural uranium supply. The country plans to substantially increase mining production in the next decade by opening 16 new mines. [2] Kazatomprom, a state-owned corporation in control of the country’s nuclear industry, plans to increase its profile in the world nuclear industry by providing more fuel cycle-related services; Kazatomprom’s goal is to supply 30% of the world’s fuel fabrication market by 2015. [3]

Kazakhstan played a key role during the Soviet era as a supplier and processor of uranium. Uranium was mined throughout the country and processed at Kazakhstan’s Tselinnyy Mining and Chemical Combine and the Prikaspiyskiy Mining and Metallurgy Combine as well as at the Kara Balta Ore Mining Combine in Kyrgyzstan and Vostokredmet’s Combine No. 6 in Tajikistan. Kazakhstan currently produces uranium dioxide pellets for nuclear fuel at Ulba Metallurgy Plant in the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk. In summer 2008, Kazakhstan and Canada (Cameco) established a joint venture to construct a uranium conversion facility at the Ulba Metallurgy Plant.

Russia and Kazakhstan are actively pursuing cooperation in the nuclear industry. At a January 2006 summit, leaders of the two countries agreed to work out a plan by May 2006 for the integration of their nuclear industries, especially with respect to the Zarechnoye uranium mining venture and Ulba Metallurgy Plant.

Kazakhstan has five nuclear reactors: four research reactors and one power reactor. The National Nuclear Center of the Republic of Kazakhstan is responsible for the country’s research reactors, including three at the former Semipalatinsk Test Site and one in Alatau, just outside the former capital of Almaty. The BN-350 power reactor in Aktau was shut down in April 1999. On 26 September 2000, the government of Kazakhstan rejected plans to build a new nuclear power plant at Lake Balkhash. However, on 21 November 2007, Kazakhstan’s Prime-Minister announced plans to construct, jointly with Russia, a new power plant in Aktau, which will host two 300 MWt reactor units. Kazatomprom and Russia’s Atomstroyeksport have established a joint venture, Atomnye Stantsii, to design and build medium-power reactors based on the VBER design.

Kazakhstan has several radioactive waste sites, including a storage facility for high-activity waste at the former Semipalatinsk Test Site.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in December 1991, Kazakhstan inherited 1,410 nuclear warheads deployed on RS-20 [NATO designation SS-18 ‘Satan’] missiles and Tu-95 [Bear] heavy bombers. [4, 5] The Kazakhstani parliament approved the ratification of the START I Treaty on 2 July 1992. [6] Kazakhstan formally acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on 14 February 1994 and transferred its last nuclear warhead to Russia in April 1995. [7, 8]

[1] “World Uranium Mining,” World Nuclear Association, May 2012, www.world-nuclear.org.
[2] “Uranium Mining,” Kazatomprom National Atomic Company, www.kazatomprom.kz.
[3] “Uranium and Nuclear Power in Kazakhstan,” World Nuclear Association, May 2012, www.world-nuclear.org.
[4] “The Politics of Renunciation: The Cases of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine,” Occasional Paper No. 22, Henry L. Stimson Center, www.stimson.org, April 1995, p. 5.
[5] Richard G. Lugar, Nunn-Lugar: The Past as a Guide to the Future, presentation at NISNP Conference Assessing U.S. Dismantlement and Nonproliferation Assistance Programs in the Newly Independent States, Monterey, CA, 13 December 1999.
[6] Bureau of Nonproliferation, “START I: Lisbon Protocol and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty,” US State Department, www.state.gov, 14 February 1995.
[7] “US Congratulates Kazakhstan for Removal of Nuclear Weapons,” Nicholas Burns statement, US Department of State, www.state.gov, 26 May 1995.
[8] US Department of State Daily Press Briefing, US Department of State, www.state.gov, 26 May 1995.

Stay Informed

Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest on nuclear and biological threats.

Sign Up


Uranium is a metal with the atomic number 92. See entries for enriched uranium, low enriched uranium, and highly enriched uranium.
Fuel Cycle
Fuel Cycle: A term for the full spectrum of processes associated with utilizing nuclear fission reactions for peaceful or military purposes. The “front-end” of the uranium-plutonium nuclear fuel cycle includes uranium mining and milling, conversion, enrichment, and fuel fabrication. The fuel is used in a nuclear reactor to produce neutrons that can, for example, produce thermal reactions to generate electricity or propulsion, or produce fissile materials for weapons. The “back-end” of the nuclear fuel cycle refers to spent fuel being stored in spent fuel pools, possible reprocessing of the spent fuel, and ultimately long-term storage in a geological or other repository.
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)
The NPT: Signed in 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the most widely adhered-to international security agreement. The “three pillars” of the NPT are nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Article VI of the NPT commits states possessing nuclear weapons to negotiate in good faith toward halting the arms race and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. The Treaty stipulates that non-nuclear-weapon states will not seek to acquire nuclear weapons, and will accept International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on their nuclear activities, while nuclear weapon states commit not to transfer nuclear weapons to other states. All states have a right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and should assist one another in its development. The NPT provides for conferences of member states to review treaty implementation at five-year intervals. Initially of a 25-year duration, the NPT was extended indefinitely in 1995. For additional information, see the NPT.


My Resources