Qaddafi wanted Kazakhstan to retain nuclear arsenal

Former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi reportedly offered Kazakhstan "billions" in the 1990s to retain possession of nuclear arms left when the Soviet Union collapsed.

A former Kazakh foreign minister and high-ranking U.N. official said that Qaddafi wanted Kazakhstan to retain the arsenal and be the first Muslim nation with nuclear capabilities, according to

"At the start of 1992, the [Kazakh] Foreign Ministry received through diplomatic channels a letter to the president of Kazakhstan from the leader of the Libyan revolution, Muammar Gaddafi, proposing that he keep the country's nuclear arsenal in the capacity of, as he wrote, the first Muslim atomic bombs," Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said, reports.

Tokayev was Kazakhstan's foreign minister form 2003-2007 and is currently serving as director-general of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland. He said that Qaddafi offered billions to fund the program, but did not specify what currency he was speaking of.

Kazakh President Nurusultan Nazarbayev reportedly declined the offer out of his concern for global security arrangements. Tokayev said that the decision demonstrated the political and moral strength of his country's leader, according to

When Kazakhstan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, it gave up an estimated arsenal of 1,410 nuclear warheads.