"one country that used to have the fourth-largest inventory of nuclear weapons in the world decided to give them up, and says it has no regrets. Kazakhstan was a republic in the old Soviet Union. After the USSR fell apart in 1991 its president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, transferred all nuclear weapons to Russia and closed the country's nuclear testing sites.
Last September at the United Nations, he urged all countries to sign a declaration for a nuclear-free world.
It was a "courageous decision" to give up nuclear weapons, Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov told CNN Wednesday, but it paid off. Last year, in the midst of the world economic crisis, Kazakhstan's GDP growth was 7.5%.
In an interview in Washington, just before a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Kazykhanov said Kazakhstan should be an example to other countries. "Over the period of 20 years," he said, "we managed to attract foreign direct investment in the amount of $150 billion, so I think this speaks for itself. We chose the right way to develop. We chose to get rid of nuclear weapons and we managed to build a vibrant economy and we are sending these messages to all our neighbors."