A Soviet poet-turned politician told a group of residents he wants to produce a common bond between people in the Soviet Union and America who have suffered the effects of nuclear testing in the two countries.
Olzhas Suleimenov, president of the Supreme Soviet and anti-nuclear activist, actively protested when the USSR began conducting nuclear tests in the region of the country where he lived.He drew many parallels between the efforts of his people and those in the United States, particularly Indians, who are becoming increasingly concerned about the damage produced from nuclear waste and waste dumps.
"I would say you are quite ahead of us," he said through an interpreter. "You have succeeded in obtaining from your government a compensation agreements for fallout victims of nuclear tests."
He said he wanted to discuss the compensation and learn how it came about.
Suleimenov's trip through America includes stops in nine cities and the White House. St. George was the only rural city on the agenda.
The tour is designed to consolidate public support behind a test ban treaty conference scheduled to take place at the United Nations Jan. 7.
The conference involves 118 countries and calls for an amendment to a treaty forged in the 1960s, which if ratified, would produce a total ban on nuclear weapons testing, according to Carolyn Cottam, tour organizer.
"The U.S. is blocking the end of nuclear-weapons testing worldwide," she said.
Suleimenov also visited the Shivwits Indian Reservation. The visit was arranged earlier this year when he met Angus Snow, a prominent Shivwits tribal leader.
"It is important that we make people aware that testing is continuing," Snow said. "It is still contaminating our land and water."