Belarus Completes Transfer of Nuclear Warheads to Russia

Article excerpt

IN LATE November, Belarus transferred the last 16 former Soviet SS-25 ICBMs and the associated nuclear warheads to Russia, completing the withdrawal of all nuclear weapons from the non-Russian former Soviet republics. On November 27, a ceremony was held near the western town of Lida during which Belarusan officers placed the last missile on a train destined for Russia. The last warheads had been removed from Belarus on November 23.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in December 1991, more than 6,000 strategic and tactical nuclear weapons were located in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, including roughly 3,200 strategic warheads. More than 500 strategic and tactical warheads and 81 of the single-warhead SS-25 missiles were deployed in Belarus. Under the May 1992 Lisbon Protocol, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine agreed to assume the START I obligations of the former Soviet Union, and the three non-Russian states agreed to join the nuclear NonProliferation Treaty as non-nuclearweapon states. (See ACT, June 1992.) All Soviet tactical nuclear weapons were transferred to Russia in 1992. The last of the strategic nuclear warheads located in Kazakhstan were transferred to Russia in April 1995, while the transfer from Ukraine was completed in June 1996.

Based on its commitments under START I and a letter submitted with the Lisbon Protocol, Belarus was required to transfer all former Soviet strategic nuclear warheads to Russia by December 5, 2001 (seven years after START I's entry into force). …