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For forty years from 1949 to 1989, the Soviet Union exploded 460 nuclear bombs in eastern Kazakhstan.

About 200,000 villagers living within 45 kilometres of the test site, known as the Polygon, were exposed to high levels of radiation.

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Not only were they not protected but they were treated as human guinea pigs, instruments of study in the event that the Cold War turned into nuclear war.

But what is probably most devastating of all is what is happening today. Children who were never exposed to nuclear fallout are being born sick and they are getting sicker.

That is because the damage their parents and grandparents suffered as a result of the Soviet Union's nuclear test regime has not only been passed down but seems even to have intensified in the following generations.

Silent Bombs: All for the Motherland aired from Sunday, July 25, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera