Fact Sheet

Belarus Nuclear Facilities

Belarus Nuclear Facilities

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After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Belarus inherited a developed nuclear research infrastructure.

The Institute of Power Engineering Problems (Sosny) is the leading nuclear research institute in Belarus. Though operation of a nuclear research reactor and two critical assemblies have been halted, the researchers at Sosny conduct experiments at the Yalina subcritical facility. There is ongoing cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy to convert the highly enriched uranium (HEU) core of the Yalina booster to low enriched uranium. Sosny also retains at least 170 kg of HEU. Minsk agreed to return this material to Russia prior to the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul. [1] However, Belarus suspended the agreement in August 2011, after the U.S. imposed economic sanctions in response to the violent suppression of political opponents under President Lukashenko’s regime. [2]

The Scientific Research Institute of Nuclear Problems is affiliated with the Belarusian State University. It conducts research on the issues of nuclear optics, nuclear physics, physics of fundamental interactions, matter structure, astroparticle physics, and theoretical physics.

Facility 97045 is the only facility that collects, stores, and disposes of radioactive waste in Belarus and was designed along the same lines as Russia's Radon facilities.

Since approximately 2005, Belarus has been actively laying the groundwork to construct a nuclear power plant in order to expand indigenous energy generation options. The first reactor is due to become operational in 2018, with a second one to follow in 2020. [3] The issue, however, is a sensitive one with the Belarusian public, which is wary of nuclear energy after the 1986 accident at Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Public sentiment towards the accident halted construction of a nuclear cogeneration plant near Minsk and the planning of a nuclear power plant near Vitebsk in the late 1980s. As a result, indigenous nuclear energy production remains a difficult policy option for Belarusian leaders.

[1] William Potter, "Belarus Agrees to Remove all HEU," CNS Feature Story, 1 December 2010, www.nonproliferation.org.
[2] Michael Schwirtz, "Belarus Suspends Pact to Give Up Enriched Uranium," The New York Times, 20 August 2011, www.lexinexis.com.
[3] “Belarus proceeds to the main stage of the NPP construction,” Belta, 4 November 2013, www.atom.belta.by.

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