In 1947, the Soviet authorities designated a large area of steppe near the city of Semipalatinsk (today's Semey) for the mining and processing of uranium, manufacture and testing of nuclear warheads, demolition of missile units and burial of nuclear waste. For more than 40 years since 1949 nuclear tests took place here on a regular basis: by 1991 more than 45,000 times the amount of nuclear material detonated over Hiroshima had been detonated here. The tests were carried out under a veil of secrecy, and with reckless disregard for the health of the people living nearby: about 2.6 million people suffered genetic damage as a result of radiation spilling out from the test site over the surrounding country.
In 1989 the "International Anti-Nuclear Movement NevadaSemipalatinsk" was set up to protest against using this or any other site for nuclear tests, to demand safe handling of nuclear wastes, and to demand that the ecological damage already caused be quantified and remedied. It was the first antinuclear nongovernmental organization created to advocate the protection of life from nuclear dangers. Eventually, branches of the Movement were set up, not only in every district of Kazakhstan, but elsewhere in Central Asia, in Moscow and St Petersburg, and in other countries such as the U.S, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Israel and South Africa.
The Movement achieved success in 1991 when the testing ground was closed down by the newly independent Republic of Kazakhstan, and when the United Nations repeatedly urged all countries to assist Kazakhstan in rehabilitating the vast stretches of country contaminated by radiation. Eventually the world community agreed that nuclear testing should be banned: a decision for which the Movement can claim credit.
The collection of documents on the International Anti-Nuclear Movement Nevada-Semipalatinsk inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register in 2005 includes films, sound documents, photographs, manuscripts and printed material. They are an important and unique source for study and research to promote public understanding of the necessity to fight against nuclear threats and find solutions to global ecological problems.