A step closer to being blown away

Kazakhstan is the place where Borat, its most famous citizen, drinks vodka and traditional Kazakh wine made from fermented horse urine.
But –

Just in case anyone doubted it, Borat’s Kazakhstan is indeed a work of fiction. Horses do not yet have the vote here, women do ride on the inside of buses (and collect the fares too) and the country’s chief Rabbi not long ago praised the government for its support of the small Jewish community

There’s a darker side.

Alf (raised in an era when people feared being blown away by a trigger-happy lunatic who sparked a nuclear war) has just learned from AFP’s correspondent in Astana

The recently imprisoned former head of Kazakhstan’s state nuclear power agency stole the majority of the Central Asian nation’s uranium deposits, security officials alleged on Monday.

Former Kazatomprom head Mukhtar Dzhakishev and other company officials illegally shifted ownership of uranium mines worth tens of billions of dollars through a network of offshore companies, the KNB security service said.

“Our information confirms the illegal tranfer of more than 60 percent of the state’s uranium deposits into the property of Dzhakishev and the companies he owned,” a KNB spokesman told reporters in the capital Astana.

Authorities did not explain how Dzhakishev managed to steal more than half of the country’s uranium deposits from under the government’s nose.

The AFP report says all uranium deals in Kazakhstan are heavily monitored and audited by the state.

It also says Kazakhstan, an ex-Soviet republic bordering Russia and China, holds almost 20 percent of the world’s uranium reserves and aims to be the number one producer by 2010, overtaking Australia and Canada.

But when one bloke in Kazakhstan can steal most of the bloody stuff and spread it around the world, Alf becomes deeply troubled about his longevity.

North Korea and Iran – obviously – are not the only nuclear hot spots that should be the focus of foreign affairs boffins and efforts to stem nuclear proliferation.

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