News / Europe

Belarus to Eliminate Enriched Uranium Stockpile in Deal with US

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton against the backdrop of OSCE country flags at the organization's summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, 01 Dec 2010
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton against the backdrop of OSCE country flags at the organization's summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, 01 Dec 2010
TEXT SIZE - +

The United States and Belarus announced Wednesday an agreement under which Belarus will eliminate a stockpile of Soviet-era highly enriched uranium. The accord was reached at a meeting of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Belarusian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov on the sidelines of the OSCE summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had as recently as this April said he would not bow to international pressure to give up the uranium stockpile, which experts feared was poorly-secured.

But U.S. officials say the Minsk government began to reconsider its position after it was barred from attending the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, and the agreement was hammered out by the two sides in the days leading up to the OSCE summit.

An announcement after the Clinton-Martynov bilateral meeting said Belarus, with U.S. assistance, will eliminate, by 2012, its entire stock of enriched uranium, estimated at about 220 kilograms, enough to make several nuclear weapons.
The United States said it will support a Belarus decision to build a safeguarded light-water nuclear power plant, and that South Korea is inviting the Central European state to the next nuclear summit in two years.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Philip Gordon told reporters traveling with Clinton the Belarus accord is a major step toward fulfilling President Obama's goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material by 2014, and that the prospective power plant will help Belarus diversify its energy supplies.

"It is cheaper and safer. It increases the energy diversity because, at present, Belarus relies very significantly on gas imports from one country, Russia. And a nuclear reactor would enable them to supply their own energy and not have to be so reliant on imports,” said Gordon.

The authoritarian government of Mr. Lukashenko, described in the past as Europe's last dictatorship, has taken some recent steps to improve relations with Washington and the European Union, including the release of remaining political prisoners.

The Clinton-Martynov statement said both sides acknowledge that enhanced respect for democracy and human rights remains central to improved relations, and that the United States hopes to see substantial progress, including a presidential election later this month that meets international standards.

The Belarus nuclear accord is the second the United States has concluded with a former Soviet republic in the past two weeks. Kazakhstan announced November 18th that with U.S. and British help, it is shutting down a plutonium plant and putting 10 metric tons of highly-enriched uranium and three tons of plutonium in safe storage.

Secretary Clinton hailed that accord at a press event with Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev.

"That is enough material to have made 775 nuclear weapons. And now we are confident it will never fall into the wrong hands. This is a milestone of our cooperation, and a major step forward in meeting the goals set at this year's Nuclear Security Summit, in securing all nuclear material within four years," said Clinton.

While the Kazakh nuclear material will remain there in a new storage facility, a senior State Department official said the highly-enriched uranium from Belarus will eventually be shipped to Russia to be "blended down" into low-enriched reactor fuel.

U.S. companies will not build the nuclear power plant Belarus plans to acquire because the two countries lack a nuclear cooperation agreement.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid