The History of Belarus as Nuclear Power
A compilation of materials from WWW resources
When someone talks about the history
of the USSR nuclear weaponry they don’t realize that they talk about
weapons located predominantly in the 4 regions of the former superpower – USSR
Far East, Polar region, South and Western USSR – Kazakhstan and Ukraine with Belarus. Far East and Polar regions were aimed at the USA,
Kazakhstan in the South was the main testing ground, and and Belarus with
Ukraine were aimed
at Western Europe. Where were Belarusian weapons aimed at inside Western Europe? A good guess
would be - at the nuclear powers (UK, France) and the US military bases in
These are the warheads of the first
Soviet tactical missiles (left, up to 10 kilotons, max range 32km, in
service 1960-67) and ICBM (right - SS-6 "Sapwood", official Soviet
designation "R-7" or "8-K-3", up to 3 Megatons, deployed in
1958, max range of 8,500 km).
Of course, conventional arms of
Warsaw Treaty camp were moved out as far as Eastern Germany and Czechoslovakia.
These “camp comrades” were not trusted with nuclear weapons. Even so, when
Berlin Wall fell the tanks were pulled out from Germany to guess where? Belarus.
These tank troops arrived to Belarus in to the newly built by West army towns
and they brought here the spirit of Berlin Wall or should we call it “circle
the wagons” mentality. And so today’s Belarus – a country of 10 million
population – has more tanks (1,700)
than Germany and France combined. Well, let’s hope they’ll all rust useless.
But one shouldn’t forget that Mr. Lukashenka - “the last dictator of
Europe” - is in charge of them today. Boy, is he pissed off now at Shushkevich
for giving up Belarusian nuclear weapons! Imagine “last dictatorship in
Europe” with nuclear weapons! Shushkevich, this soft and intelligent Dr. of
nuclear physics, a son of Belarusian poet, brought up as liberal, who was
elevated on the wave of democratic reformation started by Gorbachev’s
“Perestroika” to a post of Belarus prime minister, a softie who has never
wished to create a presidency post for Belarus (bravo!) – it is Shushkevich
who arranged the historic meeting of Eltsin, Kravchenko and himself in the
famous Belavezha forest to disband the USSR. Shushkevich has started a process
of nuclear weapons withdrawal from Belarus and signed all the major agreements.
Lukashenka - a “kolhoz” director, who was elected to power in 1994 – was
far less scrupulous. In a short period of three years he had created a post of
president for himself, changed Belarusian constitution to give himself more
power, disbanded democratically elected Parliament (sending SWAT squad to beat
up and drag out parliamentarians, who barricaded themselves in the building of
Parliament in a protest of his actions), and rigged elections to “new
parliament” to populate it with his own puppets. Well, even with all this
success as a regime handler, he missed the window of opportunity and by 1996,
when all the main tools of his dictatorship were in place, the nuclear weapons
have left Belarus. Unfortunately, so did the international interest in a small
Eastern European country of 10 million population. Only in 8 years, when
dictatorship of Lukashenka would reach the awesome heights of Chinese cultural
revolution by publishing a list of musicians, who are allowed for radio
rotation, and forbidding the use of foreign models in the ads – will the US
and Europe realize of their mistake of letting it go. Well, US has paid much
bigger price for letting it go in Afghanistan – September 11. In politics, as
in any other business, following things through is vital to success. Right now
Americans are squeamish in backing up “Belarus Democracy Act of 2004” with
40 million dollars promised for “Orange Revolution” in Belarus. But they
wouldn’t blink in appropriating 25 billion for bombing of Belarus (cost
of Yugoslavia bombing), should the President ask for it. No wonder Diplomacy
is less effective than Military Intervention for President Bush - it is funded
500 times less.
The “Last Dictator of Europe” is clearly bitter about not
having a nuclear truncheon in his hands to wave. According to M.V.
Ramana of the Center for Energy and
Environmental Studies, Princeton University:
” The recent statement by the
President of Belarus that the decision to withdraw nuclear weapons from his
country was a mistake and that he would welcome them back, demonstrates the
reversible nature, at least potentially, of NPT accession. Just as in Russia,
this indicates the increasing role played by nuclear weapons in the thinking of
Belarus despite the end of the Cold War. This statement is also an example of
the many non-nuclear factors that influence the nuclear policies of different
countries. In the case of Belarus, the statement is clearly linked to NATO
expansion. There is little doubt that their desire for nuclear weapons has been
strengthened by NATO’s bombardment of Yugoslavia without resorting to the
United Nations. Such actions must be firmly rejected.“
Alexandr Panov of Open.by speculates
that if Russia would deploy nuclear
weapons in Belarus it would be tactical, not strategic:
“However impressive the country's military potential is, more important is the much-talked-of possibility of returning nuclear weapons to Belarus. Some experts believe the possibility is quite real as it no way concerns a return of the withdrawn strategic missiles. Considering the approaching of NATO close to Belarus' borders, intercontinental ballistic missiles will apparently become too vulnerable against its tactical air forces. Today it would be more efficient and safe to launch missiles from the territory of Russia.
Tactical nuclear weapon is a different matter. In this case, Belarus' proximity to NATO is a serious advantage. If a conflict with the Alliance happens, Russians will be able to deploy in Belarus small-range nuclear weapons (the so-called "theatre nuclear weapon"). Such nuclear warheads can be delivered either by Tochka and Scad tactical missiles (available in Belarus) or by aircrafts. In the latter case, Russia can make use of Belarus' highly-developed network of military airfields. By the way, the nuclear weapon of this type is not subject to international agreements and can be brought into Belarus as soon as tomorrow. “
Also here’s what 1999 article “Russia
and Belarus consider 're-nuclearization' of Belarus” by
Norwegian Institute for International Affairs reports:
“Leaks from the defense ministries of Russia and Belarus suggests that the return of Russian nuclear weapons to Belarus is under consideration, supposedly as a countermeasure to NATO's action against Serbia. According to unnamed military officials in Moscow and Minsk on March 26, they are analyzing plans to deploy in Belarus several types of Russian nuclear-capable weapons systems: medium-range missiles, tactical TU-22M bombers and strategic TU-160 and TU-95M bombers.”
So, let us return to the history of Belarusian nuclear weaponry. First of all, what is Belarus left with today of the former USSR nuclear program? Today Belarus is left with:
That’s about all. Well maybe. One must remember that
already in the late eighties some nuclear launchers were masked as simple long
range delivery tracks which were circling the roads of the USSR with their
nuclear rockets and launch teams. They could be looking sort off like this
popular MAZ track:
By the way, MAZ and today’s plant of mobile rocket launchers (MZKT) were one until about ten years ago and shared the technology. This advanced technological trick made those launchers dissolve amidst hundreds of thousands of other delivery tracks like this for US satellites and any preventive attack. Where are those trucks driving today? Who knows. They could be in Russia, or any former republics including Belarus, or even parked somewhere in Berlin or Prague ever since the “good old days” of the socialist camp. Soviet ex-colonel and GRU operative Stanislav Lunev, who defected to US in 1992, alleged that:
“nuclear suitcase bombs may have been
pre-positioned in NATO countries during the Cold War, in a manner similar to the
way other espionage resources including conventional explosives were known to
have been cached. “
Even more so, already in 1985 the USSR was capable of making
nuclear bombs with critical mass of 400g (less than 1 pound). The world is
pretty careless in relying on their governments for being capable to track all
such bombs around. After the end of the Cold War everyone has relaxed about
nuclear war. But September 11 reminded us that new threats exist. And it is such
case nukes and similar things that we should be all thinking about nowadays.
of a hypothetical "suitcase" nuclear bomb, made by Congressional
staffer Peter Pry at a Congressional hearing on Russian espionage held by Rep.
Dan Burton (R-Indiana) on 24 January 2000 in Washington, DC. It is basically a
105 mm artillery shell device packaged in a large briefcase.
On 26 December 1991, the day the Soviet Union broke up, three successor
states - Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus - became the third, fourth, and eighth
largest nuclear powers in the world. Belarus technically became a
nuclear power because of the eighty-one SS-25 intercontinental ballistic
missiles on its soil, even though the republic's Declaration of State
Sovereignty declared Belarus to be a nuclear-free state. In May 1992, Belarus
signed the Lisbon Protocol to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear
Weapons and, along with Ukraine and Kazakhstan, agreed to destroy or turn over
all strategic nuclear warheads on its territory to Russia.
To achieve this objective, the Supreme Soviet had to ratify the START I
Treaty. For some time, however, the legislature stalled while seeking
international guarantees of the republic's security and international funding to
carry out the removal. Finally, on February 4, 1993, the START I Treaty was
ratified, and adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was approved.
All tactical nuclear weapons were removed from Belarus by mid-1993, but although
the country strove to remove the strategic nuclear weapons (based at Lida and
Mazyr) by 1995, there was little hope of meeting this deadline. Lukashenka
decided to stop Conventional Forces in Europe arms reductions in February 1995,
claiming NATO encroachments on Belarus's territory; rather, it was a matter of
finances. These remaining strategic nuclear weapons were tended by Russian
troops who would continue to be stationed there for twenty-five years according
to the customs union agreements reached with Russia in January and February
As of July 1996, a total of 63 of the initial 81 single-warhead mobile SS-25 Topol missiles, had been withdrawn, with the remaining 18 yet to be removed to Russia. However, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka announced that Belarus would suspend the withdrawal of nuclear missiles from Belarus to Russia. Lukashenka said the decision to withdraw the weapons was a political mistake made by the previous leadership, and that it was unnecessary since Belarus and Russia may soon unite. The weapons had been dismantled and were no longer a military threat, and were finally returned to Russia in late November 1996.
On the day of independence, Belarus had 81 SS-25 Sickle (RS-12M) missiles at two sites: Lida and Mazyr. At the end of 1994 Belarus still had 36 SS-25s, 18 at each site. In 1995 this decreased to 18, 9 in each site (one regiment per site). Although Belarus has been unhappy however with the refusal by Russia to pay compensation for the weapon fissile material removed from its territory, the last nuclear warheads were reportedly removed on 23 November 1996. Some of the SS-25 missiles remained at that time (now unarmed), but the removal of the last of these was expected by early 1997.
Per recent UN report: ”Belarus continues to fully observe its international obligations under agreements in the field of nuclear disarmament. Particularly, under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Belarus eliminated 584 intermediate and shorter range nuclear missiles, as well as their launchers and related auxiliary equipment. The final inspection under the INF Treaty, conducted in Belarus in February 2001, confirmed strict observance by our country of all conditions and prohibitions under the Treaty.”
It was recently (March 2005) announced in news that Lukashenka decided
to freeze destruction of Topol ICBM launching sites in Belarus. Currently
80+ sites are remaining in Belarus and are being secured for future? The
official claim that Belarus is lacking funds to proceed with destruction of the
launching sites sound unconvincing in light of recent Lukashenka sentiments
about Belarusian nuclear weapons history.
The Topol (seen on photo above riding on Belarusian MZKT track) has a range of 10,500 km, and a payload of 1000 kg. It is armed with a single 550 kt warhead with an accuracy (CEP - circular error probability) of 200 m. The original version of the SS-25 (RS-12M) went into service in 1985. As of December 1996 all Topols are located in Russia - currently about 369 in service there.
CNN reported on Nov 27, 1996: “MINSK, Belarus (CNN) -- With all the pomp of a presidential ceremony, Belarus on Wednesday heralded the removal of its last nuclear missile, joining a handful of countries that have given up nuclear weapons.
"From today, Belarus
obtains the status of a non-nuclear state and has fulfilled its international
obligations," said Belarus acting Defense Minister Alexander Chumakov.
Belarus, which once had 81
nuclear missiles, shipped its last 18 warheads to Russia on Saturday, officials
said. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said he held back one missile for
Wednesday's symbolic ceremony.
Some confusion remained over
whether Belarus had kept any empty missiles. But the missiles without warheads
are not considered a threat.”
As to whether these launch sites are really empty. While
nuclear warheads have left Belarus in 1996, it seems that cruise missiles and
rocket missiles, equipped with conventional warheads, are still part of
Belarusian weaponry. At least this is the only type of weapons that seems to fit
description “weapons of holding aggressors and their
accomplices” that President
Lukashenka was describing in 2003. He said: “These are conventional
weapons, but they are capable of accomplishing huge damage at significant
distances from the territory of Belarus”.
Early Warning Radar
has one of the world's most powerful super radio locator stations. This is the
first early warning super locator built in the USSR.
radar installation that is the core of the missile attack warning system of
Russia. The facility was put into operation in 1995 near the city of Baranovichi
and was designated as the Volga
Facility. The radar installation can detect launches of ballistic missiles
all over Europe and even further: Moscow learned about US strikes on Iraq
exactly from its radar installation in Belarus. Basing on data from the Volga
Facility, anti-missile system of Moscow region aims its counter-missiles.
its turn, Belarus has its own technical means of rebuff against nuclear missile
attack. It holds up-to-date S-300 air defense systems which are capable of
intercepting tactical and even strategic missiles.
Mobile Missile Launcher Plant
Belarus still manufactures ALL of the specialized trucks to carry Russian ballistic rockets at MZKT (Minski Zavod Kolesnyh Tiagachej) plant. This is a former military division of MAZ auto plant. But MZKT also has converted its products into civil heavy duty all terrain tractors. This technology for creating mobile nuclear launchers is considered so critical that when one of the MZKT tractors was photographed in 1997 by US satellite in China a international scandal broke out. The mobility of the MAZ is significantly better than that of heavy Chinese vehicles," according to the report by the Air Force National Air Intelligence Center. "For that reason, the Chinese will probably reverse-engineer the MAZ vehicle to better understand its superior characteristics." Apparently Chinese have actually reverse engineered MZKT tractor. Only after that they have presented MZKT guys with a choice - either earn a buck and assist in construction of the plant in China or don’t and have Chinese manufacture MZKT clone anyways. It looks like MZKT decided to assist China in construction of the plant. This plant would manufacture the tracks similar to MZKT.
Strategic Bomber Runways
Looks like there are at least two major strategic bomber
capable runways in Belarus. Per CIA
Factbook Belarus has 50 paved aircraft runways:
On April 5 2005 two Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers Tu-160 made a first post-Soviet landing in Machulishchy military runway near Minsk as part of command post exercises to test the system of control over ready forces in the Commonwealth of Independent States' air defense system. Per Kommersant.com:
"En route from Russia to Belarus, Tu-160s, Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 were simulating the planes of an enemy. They were spotted by the air force and air defense of Belarus, backed up by the long-range radar detection aircraft A-50, which arrived from Ivanovo to the effect. Once intercepted and conditionally destroyed, two strategic missile carriers Tu-95MS and a couple of Tu-160s landed in Machulishchi aerodrome near Minsk. For Russia’s Tu-22M3 it was the first landing on the above airdrome. At the same time, four Tu-22M3s of Russia put down in Baranovichy."
Per Russian News& Information agency "Novosti":
"The exercise also it to involve the Russian Air Force's Tu-160 and Tu-95 strategic bombers that will land at a Belarus airbase," Colonel-General Boris Cheltsov, chief of staff of the Russian Air Force (RusAF) said, adding that two A-50 airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft were to be used in the exercise."
Why would Belarusians all of a sudden need to exercise shooting down the strategic bombers in 2005? We don't know. Lukashenka was on of the few politicians who flew to meet with Slobodan Miloshevic even as Americans and allies were bombing Yugoslavia and Belgrade:
Could this be a clue? Are these memories troubling "Europe's Last Dictator" ?
Nuclear Capable Bombers
Belarusian Air Forces (VVS) were formed on May 6, 1992 on the basis of Soviet Military Air Forces (VVS) stationed on the territory of newly independent Belarus. Although Belarus went through housing entire spectrum of Soviet bombers (Tu-22 and such) it looks like all strategic bombers were transferred to Russia by the end of 1996 as part of international agreements on making Belarus a nuclear free zone. Belarusian VVS were re-integrated with Russian VVS on April 1, 1996. Per answers.com site currently Belarusian Air Force has 22,466 servicemen (two interceptor regiments, three strike regiments, one reconnaissance regiment)
The following bombers were part of Belarus VVS in
1991-1995 according to worldairforces.com:
Il’iushin Il-20 Coot………1
Il’iushin Il-22 Coot B……….1
MiG-23UB Flogger C ……..6
MiG-29UB, Fulcrum B…….8
Myasishchev M-4, Bison ….8
Sukhoi Su-24, Fencer D…..42
Sukhoi Su-25K, Frogfoot….90
Sukhoi Su-25UB, Frogfoot B….10
Sukhoi Su-27UB, Flanker
Tupolev Tu-16, Badger…..10
The locations of bomber regiments per globalsecurity.org were:
site does not list any strategic bombers in service of Belarusian Air Forces
anymore. According to them:
“In mid-1994 the Belarusian
air force operated two interceptor regiments with MiG-23, MiG-25, and MiG-29
aircraft; three strike regiments with MiG-27, Su-17, Su-24, and Su-25 aircraft;
and one reconnaissance regiment with MiG-25 and Su-24 aircraft. Four regiments
had 300 helicopters, and one transport regiment had more than forty helicopters.
Personnel numbered 15,800.
Belarus also had an air defense
force with 11,800 personnel and 200 SA-2, SA-3, SA-5, and SA-10 surface-to-air
missiles. The system was being integrated into Russia's air defenses in 1994
owing to Belarus's lack of resources.”
current 2005 numbers
that globalsecurity.org ascribes to Belarusian Air
Forces – VVS - are:
“Su” stands for Sukhoi airplane design bureau. Paval Sukhoi is a famous
Soviet airplane designer born
Per answers.com Belarusian Air Force is now equipped with Mig-27,
Su-17, Su-24, Su-25 bombers. All of these are tactical range fighter/bombers
incapable of acquiring strategic targets.
Bomber aviation, being armed with bombers Su-24 m, is basic
impact means VVS and is intended for the defeat of the groupings of troops,
aviation on the earth/ground (airfields), destroying of important military,
military industrial, energy objects, communications, predominantly in the
operational depth. It can also solve the problems of conducting of aerial
reconnaissance and aerial mine laying.
Nuclear Delivery Means
No nuclear submarines out of 70+ Soviet nuclear subs were
inherited by Belarus. They were all taken by Russians. Perhaps only Ukraine out
of former Soviet Republics is capable of maintaining and housing nuclear
submarine fleet. But Ukraine and Kazakhstan became nuclear free in the 1990-ies
just as Belarus.
All of the Soviet tanks are capable of firing 120mm
tactical nuclear weapon shells. Same
is true for artillery.
Belarusian Nuclear Physics
Picture at the top of this page is that of the Russian Atomic Weapon Museum located at Sarov (formerly Arzamas-16), the principal Soviet nuclear weapon laboratory, some 400 km east of Moscow. It shows the weaponized version of the 20 kt Joe-1 (the first Soviet atomic weapon) at right and the weaponized version of the 400 kt Joe-4 (the thermonuclear "Sloika" device) on left. In the middle is the 40 kt improved implosion bomb Joe-2, tested 24 September 1951 at 38 Kt. A Belarus-born scientist Yakov Zeldovich was instrumental in developing Soviet atomic and hydrogen bombs. Below are excerpts from a page about Yakov Zeldovich at nuclearweaponarchive.org:
Borisovich Zel'dovich was born in Minsk, Belarus on 8 March 1914. At age 17 he
began working as a laboratory assistant at the Institute of Physics, the
Institute of Chemical Physics, in Leningrad. Zel'dovich was almost entirely
self-taught, eventually reaching the level of Academician (the highest rank in
Soviet academia) and later becoming professor at Moscow State University without
ever received a regular college degree.
Zel'dovich had a remarkably versatile intellect, and during his life explored and made major contributions to a wide range of scientific endeavors. During the 1940s he advanced the state of the science of combustion and detonation. He developed a more sophisticated theory of detonation that accounted for features not previously explained, and correctly predicted features that had not yet been observed. The modern theory of detonation accordingly is called ZND theory (Zel'dovich-von Neumann-Dohring). In a series of seminal papers written in collaboration with Yuli Khariton in 1939-40, he explored the basic principles of fission chain reactions in both fast and moderated assemblies.
Zel'dovich became the first head of the theoretical department of
Arzamas-16, the "Soviet Los Alamos", in 1946. That same year he
developed a report with Isaak Gurevich, Isaak Pomeranchuk, and Khariton on the
feasibility of releasing energy through nuclear fusion triggered by an atomic
explosion and presented it to Igor Kurchatov. This report was published in 1991
in Uspekhi Fizicheskikh Nauk. under the title "Ispol'zovanie iadernoi
energii legkikh elementov" ("Utilization of the nuclear energy of
light elements"). [VG comment – this report essentially gave a recipe of
Zel'dovich led the theoretical work on both the first Soviet
atomic and hydrogen bombs.
The first conceptual breakthrough came sometime in late 1953. This breakthrough is apparently attributable to Davidenko. Left is a January 1954 sketch by Zel'dovich and Sakharov, addressed to Yuli Khariton, that shows a transitional concept for the hydrogen bomb. The concept shown is equivalent to Stanislaw Ulam's breakthrough of separate staging, using an atomic trigger to compress the thermonuclear secondary. Like Ulam's initial concept, it is based on hydrodynamic compression rather than radiation implosion.
In the course of his work on nuclear weapons, Zel'dovich did
ground-breaking work in radiation hydrodynamics, and the physics of matter at
high pressure. This research served as the basis for his collaboration with Yuli
P. Raizer in writing Physics of Shock Waves and High-Temperature Hydrodynamic
Phenomena, a marvelously lucid physics text and by far the best text on
radiation hydrodynamics available. Originally published in English in 1966 by
Academic Press, it is now (2002) available in a low cost paper back reprint from
The Institute of Power Engineering Problems (IPEP) is the leading nuclear research institute in Belarus. It was created in 1989 when the Institute for Nuclear Power Engineering of the Academy of Sciences was divided into three institutes:
The Institute for Power Engineering Problems
The Institute for Physical and Chemical Radiation Problems
The Institute for Radiation-Ecological Problems
the Institutes form the Sosny
Scientific and Engineering Complex under the Belarusian Academy of Sciences.
Currently the traditions of Soviet nuclear science are also
maintained at the Research Institute
of Nuclear Problems of Belarusian State University. The Chernobyl
catastrophe on April 26, 1986, which spilled 70% of its nuclear waste on
Belarus, has put a tragic twist on specialization of the Belarusian Nuclear
Science – radiation Safety and Health.
Of other nuclear research organizations, there is also International
Sakharov Environmental University with main research focus on the radiation
Nuclear Reactors in Belarus
to Belarusian nuclear scientists, the now-restructured Belarusian Institute
of Nuclear Power Engineering (INPE) of Sosny Scientific and Engineering Complex
designed a mobile nuclear power reactor with a 700 kW capacity (according to
Yermashkevich, 630 kW) and created a working model, called Pamir. This reactor
was designed for military purposes and for territories, such as the desert or
tundra, where it is difficult to connect to an electricity grid. This mobile
plant was designed to work in conditions from -50 degrees Celsius to +50 degrees
Celsius without any water resources. The Pamir reactor used uranium enriched
to 45 percent U-235 for fuel, with nitrogen tetraoxide for the coolant. Tests
were performed using critical assemblies and the model itself for at least 3500
hours starting in 1985. Approximately 60 emergency shutdowns took place, some of
which resulted in the release of nitrogen tetraoxide and radioactive
particles. The project was scrapped in 1986 by a decision of the Belarusian
government. Reportedly, the INPE also worked on a project to develop a
fast-breeder reactor. This project was almost completed in 1985. A site had been
chosen and construction was about to begin when the project was scrapped.
As part of the 1983 Power Development Program for USSR
construction of the Minsk nuclear power station began, and a
Belarusian station was planned. But as a result of heavy radioactive contamination from the
1986 Chernobyl accident, Belarus halted plans to build two 1000
MWe VVER reactors outside Minsk (Minsk 1 and 2).
Commission on the Assessment of the Advisability of Nuclear Power Development in
the Republic of Belarus created by the decree of the Prime Minister of the
Republic of Belarus of the 31st of March 1998 No. 88 r started to work on the
first of July, 1998, and held four meetings. Regarding the expediency of the nuclear power development in the country,
members of the work group disagreed. Some of the participants, led by the
Chairman of the work group O.G.Martynenko, prepared a Decision, in which they
have stated the need for and the obligation for nuclear power plant construction
in Belarus, with commissioning of the first block by 2010. Other participants,
led by I.N.Smolyar, presented a Conclusion on the inexpedience of nuclear power
development in the Republic of Belarus and suggested introducing a moratorium
for nuclear power plant construction for the next 10-15 years.
There is a small research reactor (type
Pool IRT-M, 5 MWt, fuel – 90% U-235)
Institute for Power Engineering Problems in Sosny, near Minsk.
But it can hardly be used in production of large quantities of weapons grade
plutonium. The storage facility for nuclear materials in Sosny Science and
Technical Center has
been upgraded with latest security by Los Alamos national lab experts. This
resume of the graduate of Belarusian State University mentions operation in 1977 of the Gas
(N2O4) Cooled Reactor in Nuclear Research Centre
“Institute of Nuclear Energy”, Minsk, Belarus.
Lately there is a lot of talk about building nuclear power station in Belarus. It would make a perfect sense to me. Belarus is surrounded with a ring of 3 nuclear power plants, located within some 50 miles of our borders – reactors in Smolensk (Russia), Chernobyl and Rovno (Ukraine) and Ignaline (Lithuania). The later is scheduled for closure since Lithuania has joined EC. So we already have all drawbacks of having nuclear power station but we don’t get any benefits. We already have two vast regions of radioactive contamination by Chernobyl outbursts – around Homel and Mahilyow. So why buy the power from the reactors of our neighbors when we can build reactor of our own in one of these forever contaminated areas? For all I understand we turn those into radioactive waste depository and earn money. If we can’t clean up Chernobyl zone – at least we can earn money by running a waste depository, which could certainly be run cleaner than Chernobyl. When life deals you a lemon at least try to make a lemonade… The public opinion in Belarus though is very strongly against nuclear power after Chernobyl. Which is ironic – it’s too late for us to worry about it. The worst case scenario – Chernobyl - has already happened to Belarus.
Treaties with USSR inherited by Belarus:
Not sure which ones still apply and are not violated by the USA. Ever since USSR fell apart US feels free to break any of agreements as a sole super power in the World and does little honoring of the former International Treaties. Unilateralism is popular with neo-cons, which is unfortunate for America, because it is unpopular with the rest of the World.