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

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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid