Kurchatov, Kazakhstan

Kurchatov (in Kazakh and Russian: Курча́тов) is a town in East Kazakhstan Region in north-east Kazakhstan. Named after Soviet nuclear physicist Igor Kurchatov, the town was once the centre of operations for the adjoining Semipalatinsk Test Site. With the cessation of nuclear testing and the decommissioning of the test site, Kurchatov's population has fallen from over 20,000 to around 8,000.[1] In its heyday Kurchatov (which was known by its postal code Semipalatinsk-21) was a closed city, one of the most secretive and restricted places in the Soviet Union. The nuclear facilities at Kurchatov are managed by the Kazakhstan Institute of Atomic Energy, a division of the country's National Nuclear Center.

Location of Kurchatov and the Semipalatinsk Test Site within Kazakhstan
A monument to Kurchatov on the background of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site's Central Staff. 1991. Now it is the Town Administration building


Kurchatov is located on the south bank of the Irtysh River, which crosses into Kazakhstan from the autonomous region of Xinjiang in China approximately 400 kilometres (250 mi) to the southeast.


A railway connects Kurchatov to Pavlodar and Astana to the west and to Semey 130 kilometres (100 mi) to the east.[2]


  1. ^ "In pictures: Kazakh nuclear town", BBC News website, 2005-12-06
  2. ^ Semipalatinsk-16 page at Global Security

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Coordinates: 50°45′24″N 78°32′24″E / 50.75667°N 78.54000°E / 50.75667; 78.54000