The Republic of Belarus is an important contributor to the international nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament efforts in the context of the NPT.
Belarus declared its intention to make its territory nuclear-free in 1990 in the Declaration on State Sovereignty. By singing the Lisbon Protocol in 1992, Belarus became party to the Strategic Arms Reduction (START) Treaty. This step was inseparably linked to the major political decision to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State Party.
In July 1993, Belarus formally acceded to the NPT, thus becoming the first country to voluntarily denounce the possibility to possess nuclear weapons inherited from the former Soviet Union. It is necessary to underline that renunciation by Belarus of the most modern nuclear military arsenal was never subject to any conditions or reservations. Thereby our country actually initiated the process of settlement of nuclear disarmament issues in the post-Soviet area in the interest of international peace and security. Welcoming the accession of Belarus to the NPT as a non nuclear weapon state Russia, UK and USA provided security assurances to Belarus and signed on 5 December 1994 Budapest Memorandum. The withdrawal of nuclear weapons from the territory of Belarus was completed in November 1996.
One of the NPT articles obliges States Parties t. Belarus views that obligation of the nuclear weapon states under NPT Article VI to pursue negotiations on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament constitutes main strategic goal of the Treaty. We support reasonable and phased approach to nuclear disarmament. Belarus welcomed the signature by Russia and USA on 8 April 2010 of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty as a next step on the path to nuclear arms reduction. We deem it necessary to further pursue the efforts on national, regional and global levels in order to bring closer the goal of universal nuclear disarmament.
Another important matter of the NPT-related agenda is the issue of assurances that nuclear arms would not be used against non-nuclear-weapon states. The provision of such unambiguous security assurances is an important pre-requisite of trust and predictability in international relations and can contribute to strengthening the NPT-based nuclear non-proliferation regime. Belarus intends to maintain efforts aimed at obtaining legally binding assurances that could take form of a separate international document. In this context, Belarus welcomes the Joint Statement of the United States of America and the Russian Federation on expiration of START Treaty where, in particular, it was confirmed that the security assurances set forth in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum would remain in force.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons laid foundation of the international safeguards system designed to exclude the use of nuclear energy for military purposes. This safeguards system is operated under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency and is based on separate agreements that every NPT State Party has to conclude with the IAEA.
In conformity with its NPT commitment, Belarus concluded Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA in 1996. The Agency verification activities under this Agreement confirm that Belarus meets its obligations with regard to the exclusively peaceful use of nuclear material and facilities. In 2005, Belarus and the IAEA signed the Additional Protocol to the Safeguards Agreement. This document significantly expands the IAEA’s capabilities to conduct its verification.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty clearly guarantees the right of states to develop peaceful nuclear programmes under condition that the non-proliferation obligations are met. This provision of the NPT is of acute importance due to the increased attention of the international community to the development of nuclear technologies, particularly to the introduction of nuclear power programmes. In this regard Belarus is interested in the full and non-discriminatory implementation of the rights enshrined in the NPT.
In May 2010, the delegation of Belarus participated in the NPT Review Conference, a major nuclear forum conducted every five years, took place in New York. The Conference concluded with the adoption of the Final Document containing Conclusions and recommendations for follow-on actions. Our delegation took active part in the process of elaboration of the action plan on nuclear disarmament, adopted by the Final Document. We consider that Action 8 of the mentioned action plan, calling upon the nuclear weapon states “to fully respect their existing commitments with regard to security assurances”, is directly applicable to the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, especially with regard to the fact of its registration by the UN on 13 November 2012 as international agreement.
Currently, the preparatory process for the 2015 NPT Review Conference is carried out.