Last Updated: May 20, 2014
Location: 100-115km south-southeast of the village of Say-Utes in Mangystau Oblast. [1]
Subordinate To: N/A
Size: N/A
Facility Status: Non-operational

From 1949-1989, the Soviet Union conducted more than 400 nuclear test explosions in Kazakhstan, for both military and peaceful purposes. [2] The majority of these tests occurred, including the first successful Soviet test in 1949, occurred at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan. [3] These tests imparted a legacy of radiation exposure to the local population, harmful environmental effects, and a negative health impacts for the people living near the testing sites. [4]

The Soviet Union conducted three peaceful nuclear explosions at Say-Utes in 1969 and1970. [5]

[1] Smantay Tleubergenov, Poligony Kazakhstana (Almaty: Gylym, 1997), pp. 56, 134.
[2] M. D. Nordyke, “The Soviet Program for Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Explosions,” Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 1 September 2000,
[3] “The Soviet Union’s Nuclear Testing Program,” The Preparatory Committee for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty,
[4] James Lerager, “Second Sunset – Victims of Soviet Nuclear Testing,” Sierra: Vol. 77, No. 2, 1 March 1992.
[5] Smantay Tleubergenov, Ekologiya cheloveka (Almaty: Gylym, 1993), p. 195; Information provided to NISNP by the Kazakhstan Atomic Energy Agency, 26 October 1996; "Radiation Situation on the Territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan," Aziya-Ezh, No. 47, November 1996, p. 23; in "Kazakhstan: Results of Radioactive Contamination Study," FBIS-SOV-96-252-S.

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This article provides an overview of Kazakhstan’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2019.