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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 11, December 1996

Belarus completes transfer of nuclear warheads to Russia

In late November, Belarus completed the transfer of nuclear warheads to Russia. The transfer means that there are now no former Soviet nuclear weapons outside Russia. However, reports were extremely confused about the actual date of the transfer, and the fate of the 18 SS-25 missiles previously armed with the warheads.

According to General Viktor Yessin, Chief of Russia's Nuclear Forces Staff, in Moscow on 23 November:

"After completing the transportation of the last 18 nuclear warheads which remained in Belarus, the strategic Russian forces have completed the panoply of measures seeking to remove nuclear warheads from former members of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States]."

However, by 26 November, the US was expressing concern that the missiles had not accompanied the warheads. According to State Department spokesperson Nicholas Burns: "The disposition of the missile itself is, of course, of interest. And it's that question that we are now looking into with both the Russian and Belarussian governments."

Reports: Belarus says all nukes withdrawn from its territory, Agence France-Presse International News, 22 November; Russia repatriates last of Soviet-era missiles, Agence France-Presse International News, 23 November; Moscow assures that nuclear warheads all removed from Belarus, Agence France-Presse International News, 25 November; US concerned over missile situation in Belarus, AP Datastream Washington News Wire, 26 November.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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