Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Belarus Suspends Uranium Shipments

While the United States and Belarus ratchet up tensions, cabbage harvesting has begun on a farm outside Minsk. Vasily Fedosenko

MINSK — Belarus has suspended a U.S.-backed effort to fully give up its Soviet-era stockpile of highly enriched uranium in response to new American sanctions, the government said Friday.

Belarus will make sure that the material is stored securely in line with its international commitments, the Foreign Ministry said.

The United States has conducted a longtime effort to secure nuclear materials in former Soviet nations to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

"We are disappointed with Belarus' announcement," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heide Bronke Fulton said in Washington. "We hope that Belarus intends to meet its stated objective of the elimination of all of its stocks of highly enriched uranium. This is a responsible contribution to global security."

Last December, Belarus committed to eliminating its stockpile of highly enriched uranium by year's end. Prior to the agreement, Belarus, Russia, the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency moved two shipments of the material into secure facilities in Russia.

President Alexander Lukashenko says Belarus still has "hundreds of kilograms" of highly enriched uranium, but his government has refused to disclose the exact amount.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh said the decision to freeze the stockpile's elimination was made because of "unfounded and illegitimate U.S. sanctions."

The United States and the European Union introduced new sanctions against Lukashenko's government for its crackdown on the political opposition.

Former Belarussian leader Stanislav Shushkevich said Friday's announcement appeared to be an attempt by Lukashenko to blackmail the West.

"The Belarussian authorities are trying to scare the U.S.," he said.

Bronke Fulton said: "Respect for democracy and human rights remains central to improving relations with Belarus. The continuing crackdown and incarceration of political prisoners led the United States to impose additional sanctions this month.

"Our policy remains a firm call for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners," she said.

Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan shipped all of their Soviet-era nuclear weapons to Russia in the early 1990s, but have retained stockpiles of nuclear materials.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more