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National Nuclear Center (NNC)

  • Location
    Kurchatov, former Semipalatinsk Test Site, East Kazakhstan Oblast
  • Type
  • Facility Status

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The Four Institutes

This page is part of the Facilities Collection.

  • Institute of Nuclear Physics: Includes the VVR-K research reactor in Alatau
  • Institute of Atomic Energy: Includes the IVG-1M, non-operational RA, and IGR research reactors at the former Semipalatinsk Test Site.
  • Institute of Geophysical Research
  • Institute of Radiation Safety and Ecology


The NNC was created by presidential decree in May 1992. The NNC is charged with conducting research on the peaceful use of nuclear energy and radiation safety and is also responsible for evaluating the consequences of nuclear tests at the now-closed Semipalatinsk Test Site. All nuclear research reactors in Kazakhstan are under the jurisdiction of the NNC. The NNC is involved in denuclearization projects in Kazakhstan under the uranium Cooperative Threat Reduction program, including projects under the auspices of the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC). 1


Research reactor
Research reactor: Small fission reactors designed to produce neutrons for a variety of purposes, including scientific research, training, and medical isotope production. Unlike commercial power reactors, they are not designed to generate power.
Nuclear energy
Nuclear energy: The energy liberated by a nuclear reaction (fission or fusion), or by radioactive decay.
Radiation (Ionizing)
Radiation that has sufficient energy to remove electrons from substances that it passes through, forming ions. May include alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays, x-rays, neutrons, high-speed electrons, high-speed protons, and other particles capable of producing ions.
Uranium is a metal with the atomic number 92. See entries for enriched uranium, low enriched uranium, and highly enriched uranium.
Cooperative Threat Reduction (Nunn-Lugar) Program
A U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) program established in 1992 by the U.S. Congress, through legislation sponsored primarily by Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar. It is the largest and most diverse U.S. program addressing former Soviet Union weapons of mass destruction threats. The program has focused primarily on: (1) destroying vehicles for delivering nuclear weapons (e.g., missiles and aircraft), their launchers (such as silos and submarines), and their related facilities; (2) securing former Soviet nuclear weapons and their components; and (3) destroying Russian chemical weapons. The term is often used generically to refer to all U.S. nonproliferation programs in the former Soviet Union—and sometimes beyond— including those implemented by the U.S. Departments of Energy, Commerce, and State. The program’s scope has expanded to include threat reduction efforts in geographical areas outside the Former Soviet Union.


  1. Report done for CNS, Kazakhstan Atomic Energy Agency, 7 July 1995; Emily Ewell, “International Conference on Nonproliferation Problems,” CNS trip report, September 1997, KAZ970900, pp. 4-5.


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