MSP visits former Soviet nuclear testing land

SNP MSP Bill Kidd will tomorrow (Tuesday) be part of an international delegation which will fly by helicopter from Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, to Semipalatinsk which was the site of the Soviet Union's nuclear bomb testing.

Mr Kidd, who is there as a representative from Scotland with the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), said he expects the experience to be both a lesson and an inspiration to all nations yet to get rid of nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

He said:

"Semipalatinsk suffered over 400 nuclear explosions over a 40 year period and this has left an area the size of Germany and a population of one-and -a-half-million people affected by the indiscriminate exposure to radiation from these tests in a supposedly 'sparsely populated territory'.

"As a result of the genetic damage to humans, animals and crops and the environmental degradation of this region the Kazakh government, on achieving independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, had all 4,500 nuclear weapons removed from the country within two years and have led the World in promoting nuclear disarmament and opposition to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

"As well as visiting the National Nuclear Center of Kazakhstan and 'Ground Zero' where the nuclear explosions took place I will speak to ordinary people whose lives have been affected by exposure to this dreadful and unnecessary radioactive assault on their land.

"Meeting the people and the seeing the land - who despite all their suffering have somehow survived - will be a lesson and an inspiration to the rest of the human race to work harder to get rid of all nuclear weapons.

"Back home the majority of Scottish voters oppose Trident WMD in Scotland.  The majority of Scotland's MSPs reject Trident renewal. Our Churches and STUC do not want Trident.

“Trident nuclear weapons must be removed from Scotland – and independence is the only constitutional option which will make this happen.”