Overview Last updated: March, 2013
Belarus has no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in its possession. As a signatory to a number of arms reduction treaties, Minsk transferred all of its Soviet-era nuclear warheads to Russia in the 1990s. It does not possess biological or chemical warfare programs. Though Belarus inherited no major production or design facilities from the Soviet Union, a number of firms continue to cooperate with Russian missile and space enterprises.
When Belarus gained independence in December 1991, there were 81 road-mobile SS-25s on its territory stationed at three missile bases, and an unknown number of tactical nuclear weapons. Following Minsk's ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in February 1993 and accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state in July 1993, Belarus transferred all of its nuclear weapons to Russia by November 1996. No nuclear forces have been stationed in Belarus since then, although the possibility of stationing Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus was broached by a number of Belarusian officials in the late 1990s.
Belarus has a small civilian nuclear research program. There are ongoing efforts as part of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative to convert a booster subcritical assembly, housed at the Sosny facility, near Minsk, from highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel. The United States estimates that, at the time of Belarus' December 2010 commitment to return its highly enriched uranium (HEU) to Russia, Belarus possessed an estimated 230 kg of HEU. Although 85 kg of HEU was removed under the GTRI in November 2010, Belarus suspended the agreement in August 2011, after the United States imposed economic sanctions in response to the violent suppression of political opponents under President Lukashenko’s regime. 
Minsk is actively seeking to expand its indigenous energy generation options, including through nuclear power. Despite economic and environmental concerns, Belarus signed a general construction contract with Russia's Atomstroyeksport in July 2012, and expects its first nuclear power plant to come online in 2018.
Belarus does not have a biological warfare (BW) program, and there is no indication that it has plans to establish such a program in the future. Although Belarus was a Soviet republic in 1972, it is a signatory of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), which it ratified in 1975.
In January 1992, Russian President Boris Yeltsin declared that all former Soviet chemical weapons had been transferred to Russia. Minsk does not have a chemical warfare (CW) program, nor does it have any plans to establish such a program in the future. Belarus is a State Party of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which it ratified in 1996.
Belarus inherited no major production or design facilities from the Soviet Union. However, a number of Belarusian firms cooperate with Russian missile/space enterprises, including the Minsk Wheeled Prime Mover Plant (MZKT), which produced transporter-erector launcher (TEL) vehicles for SS-25 and SS-27 road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Some Belarusian enterprises also successfully market and export upgrades, repairs, and refurbishment of Soviet-designed short-range surface-to-air missile systems. Since 2001, Moscow and Minsk have been discussing creation of a joint missile defense system. However, as of 2008, there is no firm agreement on the issue. Russia has recently completed transfers of the S-300 [NATO Designation: SA-10 'Grumble'] air defense system to Belarus. Minsk has placed orders for S-400 [NATO designation: SA-21 'Growler'] and Tor-M2 [NATO designation: SA-15 'Gauntlet'] systems. S-400 purchases are expected to begin between 2013 and 2015, and Belarus anticipates having 10 Tor-M2 batteries before 2020. [5,6] Belarus is not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), though it has been considered for membership in the past.
 William Potter, "Belarus Agrees to Remove All HEU," CNS Feature Story, 1 December 2010, http://cns.miis.edu; Pavel Podvig, "Belarus will remove HEU by 2012," International Panel on Fissile Materials, 1 December 2010, www.fissilematerials.org.
 Pavel Podvig, "Belarus Suspends HEU removal talks with the United States," International Panel on Fissile Materials, 19 August 2011, www.fissilematerials.org.
 Michael Schwirtz, "Belarus Suspends Pact to Give Up Enriched Uranium," The New York Times, 20 August 2011, www.nytimes.com..
 "Nuclear Power in Belarus," World Nuclear Association, updated February 2013, www.world-nuclear.org.
 "Arms Trade: Belarus plans to buy S-400 missile systems from Russia in 2013-2015," Russia & CIS Defense Industry Weekly, 23 September 2011. Date accessed: 2013/03/04. www.lexisnexis.com.
 "Belarusian army receives second battery of Russian-made missile systems," BBC Monitoring Kiev Unit Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 10 January 2013. Date accessed 2013/03/04. www.lexisnexis.com3.
This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright © 2011 by MIIS.
Get the Facts on Belarus
- Suspended an agreement to return 170 kg of HEU to Russia
- Currently seeking to build its first nuclear power plant since the 1986 Chernobyl accident
- Submitted a formal request to Russia in 2009 for the purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries
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