«We need to look into the past in order to understand the present and foresee the future»
N.A.Nazarbayev

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Fatal August

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Fatal August

The first world nuclear weapon test was carried out in the USA on July 16, 1945 in New-Mexico. This was the occasion which stimulated the creation of its analogue by the USSR in contrast to American military-industrial complex.

By 1949 the USSR erected its military shield — the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site.

The first nuclear weapon test at the Semipalatinsk Test Site was conducted on August 29, 1949. The explosion was made at the height of 30 meters over the ground; the yield was 20 kilotons.

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The first Soviet atomic bomb

After the explosion the tower was completely destroyed; in addition a crater appeared on its place. However, the main damage was caused by the shock wave. According to the spectators, when the next day — August 30 — people visited the experimental field they saw the terrible picture: railway and highways bridges were disfigured and thrown off on 20-30 meters, coaches and cars were scattered across the steppe within distances of 50-80 meter from the place of the installation, apartment houses were completely destroyed. Tanks which were placed there to examine the power of impact were laid on their sides with broken turrets; guns became a pile of twisted metal; ten experimental cars “Pobeda” burnt down.

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Judging the parameters it exceeded American bomb. Thus, the priority of the United States in this sphere was annulled. However, since this moment the political balance between two superpowers depended on the life and health of people who lived near the Test Site.

In January 1965 the explosion resulted in blow-up of approximately 3,5 cubic meters of ground. The goal of the experiment was to create artificial water storage basin. The surface of the mirror was 400 meter in diameter, the depth — around 100 meters. The lake is polluted by the products of nuclear decomposition. All these consequences affected the environment and people lived close to this place.

The report for the Semipalatinsk Regional Committee of the Communist party of Kazakhstan contains the following information about the work of the dispensary № 4: “In total 531 people were examined, including 304 people in Semipalatinsk city, 40 — in Novo-Pokrovka village and 181 — in Urdzharskii district. The following illnesses were detected: stomach ulcer, brucellosis, tuberculosis — 230 people, sicknesses of uncertain etiology with symptoms typical for chronical radiation sickness — 123 people, almost healthy — 178. During the examination of the blood analysis significant alteration of blood to the decrease in leucocytes was detected. Thus, for example, in the city 27% of 87 people sent to the dispensary with presumptive radioactive sickness and undetected diagnosis had leucopenia”.

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The report contains conclusion on the significant exceeding of natural radioactive background in the Semipalatinsk region, changes in health condition of population appeared after the impact of ionizing radiation. In addition the following recommendation was given in the report: “It is necessary to stop atomic weapon tests in the Semipalatinsk region ... as.. it creates considerable threat to people’s health”.

The “Nevada-Semipalatinsk” anti-nuclear movement contributed to the solving of this problem. The mission of this movement was to stop the activity of the Semipalatinsk Test Site and abolish nuclear weapon test worldwide. Besides the efforts of official representatives of the authority in the region and the Republic it played an important role in the process of making the decision on the closure of the Semipalatinsk Test Site, compensation for damage and rehabilitation of victims of nuclear explosive testing.

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