After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the newly independent states of Central Asia have confronted a number of unresolved issues
related to the Soviet legacy of Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) development programs. One of the most serious problems that has public health, environmental and security risk dimensions is the presence across the region of former uranium production and storage facilities such as abandoned uranium mines, related uranium tailings and waste rock dumps. These sensitive unprotected sites contain highly hazardous radioactive and toxic wastes, which were byproducts of uranium mining and reprocessing. Over the
years, the Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan played an important role in the Soviet military industrial complex hosting a large uranium industry that extracted local uranium and processed uranium transported from Eastern
Europe. Uranium tailings that had emerged as a result of inadequate Soviet waste storage practices were not properly maintained in the 1990s and have become a source of grave concern for the Central Asian region and the international community. According to UN
experts, uranium production residues in Central Asia amount to 800 million tons, while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimates that this quantity approaches one billion tons.