Twenty years ago, on November 26, 1996, Belarus completed the withdrawal from its’ territory of the nuclear weapons that remained after the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Without any kind of preconditions or reservations, Belarus renounced its military nuclear capability, emphasized its commitment to peace and security and set the tone for following nuclear disarmament processes on the post -Soviet space.
Nuclear disarmament is a complex process that entails political and economic consequences and requires significant financial and human resources. Nonetheless, under the complex conditions that prevailed after the dissolution of the USSR, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine demonstrated their resolve and firm commitment to the objectives of nuclear disarmament. After signing in 1992 the Lisbon Protocol to the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine made a commitment to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as non-nuclear-weapon States, and also became full parties to the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms until the end of its period of operation in December 2009.
As a non-nuclear-weapon State, Belarus concluded an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency on the application of comprehensive safeguards in connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. All remaining nuclear material was placed under Agency safeguards.
The withdrawal of nuclear weapons from the territory of Belarus was completed shortly after the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear -Test-Ban Treaty. Twenty years ago, with our practical steps for nuclear disarmament, we believed that we were supporting the momentum of disarmament processes, which gave rise in the 1990s to the hope for a safer world. Today, expectations for progress in nuclear disarmament are much more subdued, and hopes are more cautious. A consistent and realistic approach to nuclear disarmament issues remains, in our view, the only possible way to achieve step by step a tangible progress in building a safer world.